For the second day in a row, Mayor John Tory fielded questions about potential property tax hikes to help cover the city’s portion of a $7 billion investment in Toronto transit projects.
Both Premier Kathleen Wynne and John Tory stood side by side facing the media at Queen’s Park on Tuesday morning to address their cost sharing program which would aid in building SmartTrack stations, light rail lines (LRT), as well as new Regional Express Rail stations.
Funding is to more or less be shared down the middle with the Ontario government spending $3.7 billion and the city kicking in $3.3 billion.
Tory was adamant that funding could come from ‘other revenue tools’ rather than from a property tax hike suggested in a report by the city manager that a likely shortfall in funding could be covered with a 2.1 per cent property tax increase.
“What I said during the course of the election campaign is that we would not raise property taxes to build SmartTrack.” said Tory. “In the report yesterday (Monday), people conveniently left out, the fact that while it made reference to the possibility that you could increase property tax, it also said there could be other revenue streams.”
Tory made reference to the June KPMG study, commissioned by the city, which suggested potential revenue tools could be in the form of an alcohol tax, parking tax, entertainment tax, or possibly the retrieval of the former vehicle registration tax. Tory also hinted at a possible hotel tax saying that Wynne showed some interest in going forward with it.
Tory also had words for those who continue to criticize his SmartTrack plan, particularly the alteration of the overall plan. “Yesterday, some people came forward in light of this agreement and said we should study this more. The time for studying is over. We’ve studied and we’ve studied and debated this several times over.”
The comments came before a special emergency executive committee meeting on Tuesday, called by Tory, to tie up loose ends for a potential vote at city council, next week.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) November 1, 2016