Nobody has ever accused Frances Nunziata of lacking guts. Yesterday she took a principled–and unpopular–position, and voted in favour of road tolls.
Your correspondent, being rational, is pro-toll (and anti-car). Tolls are a tax on congestion and pollution. Further, at least some of their burden will fall on people not from the 416. We bear the costs of commuters driving here; I feel quite entitled to discourage them.
The other options to close a funding gap were a 10% increase in property taxes or selling off Toronto Hydro.
Tolls are divisive: the NDP, bizarrely, is against them, preferring unnamed “better funding options”. The Conservatives, predictably, oppose them, saying “families, commuters, everyone is really feeling the pinch… life is just becoming harder and more unaffordable”–even though this is simply not true: the inflation rate was a virtually undetectable 1.1 percent last year.
An interesting little charade was taking place yesterday in Weston. The Mayor and Councillor Nunziata were here to extol the virtues of keeping property taxes low. Never mind that Toronto’s budget is facing a $516 million shortfall next year and that Council has a backlog of $33 billion in capital projects with possibly $11 billion still to be added for transportation. Never mind that in our city, the average detached home owner occupies a $1.66 million home.
To support the Mayor and Councillor’s viewpoint, a press conference was arranged in front of Weston resident Dave Bennett’s lovely home where Dave was quoted as saying that his property tax bill is ‘one of the biggest bills he gets’. Tory chimed in to state that property taxes were good for things like services but shouldn’t go towards capital expenditures (presumably like his completely useless $3 billion one-stop subway in Scarborough that we’re already paying for via a 0.5% property tax levy).
This is the mayor, aided and abetted by our own councillor who would rather cut city services across the board by 2.6% than impose a meaningful property tax increase. When services are cut, it’s the poor who suffer the most. TTC cuts, library cuts, parks cuts, police cuts, social program cuts and public housing budget cuts affect the poor disproportionally. Also look for user fees to be increased in the new year. In the meantime, those of us who own a home, from the most humble of condos in Rexdale to palatial mansions in Rosedale are spared an above-inflation increase in the lowest property taxes in the Province. Coming soon, (and this apparently is a good thing) tolls will be imposed on drivers using the Don Valley and Gardiner routes into town but instead of boosting the TTC budget in anticipation of higher passenger loads, a 2.6% budget reduction will ensure that fares are higher, routes are cut and buses and subways are crowded and even more uncomfortable.
Interestingly, York South Weston’s Ward 11 residents paid only $35 million in property tax last year compared to Toronto Centre-Rosedale whose residents paid $151 million. Most of Weston’s residents would dearly love to be in the fortunate position of directly paying property taxes* and contributing to the City’s budget but unfortunately they can’t afford to buy a home. User fees and transit costs will rise and programs designed to help people better themselves and eventually move onto the property ladder are being gutted by this idiotic strategy.
All this so that John Tory can say he didn’t raise property taxes above inflation and be re-elected in 2018.
Here’s an article and video of yesterday’s event from CP24.
*A whole other article; renters indirectly pay triple the rate that homeowners pay.
Frances Nunziata voted against increasing the number of Toronto wards in City Council today. She, and the mayor, were on the losing side, however, and there will soon be three more wards, raising the total to 47. The boundaries of Ward 11, however, will not be affected.
Depending on who you ask, the new wards are either a power grab for downtown, or reflect increasing density. Our ward was unaffected because we had at last count only 62,000 people.
For those not on Councillor Nunziata’s email list, news has arrived that the opening of the long awaited community centre will be further delayed. The expensive Centre at Eglinton and Black Creek has been tantalizing passing drivers for months as it looks very close to completion.
The word is that the opening will occur sometime towards the end of this year or early next. The opening date has been pushed back several times already and this latest delay is another blow to those in the fortunate position of actually being able to access the facility (mainly drivers).
Today was the last day of the Weston Farmers’ Market. I went with my family at midday, when the vendors were beginning to wind down. There was a pronounced melancholy in the air, along with the threat of rain.
The three local politicians were there, announcing to a small crowd a new—and quite nice—mural facing the GO parking lot. It has a quite different aesthetic than most of the murals in town: more abstract, with an 1980’s colour palette.