Members of Toronto’s executive committee have voted to ask the province for the power to toll local roads, such as the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and Gardiner Expressway, and to potentially impose several new taxes.
The move comes after Mayor John Tory, who chairs the committee, announced his plans to support tolling the DVP and Gardiner during a luncheon speech at the Toronto Board of Trade on Nov. 24 – a departure from previous comments against imposing tolls.
The committee also voted to ask the province for authority to impose a hotel and short-term accommodation rental tax, an alcohol tax at LCBO stores and “clear authority” to require collection of taxes by other entities in 2017.
For the 2018 and future budgets, the committee asked for reforms to allow for graduated residential property tax rates, parking sales tax, municipal income tax and sharing the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) with other cities.
In addition to other possible taxation measures, councillors asked the budget committee to review several other initiatives to raise money in 2017, such as a dedicated property tax for capital projects and changes to the Municipal Land Transfer Tax.
“These are measures which do in fact represent what the city manager called today ‘a good start.’ And it’s a good start on the challenges facing our city,” Tory said Thursday, while reiterating his push for more money to fund transit and infrastructure.
The report outlining the potential new taxes had councillors speaking out on both sides of the issue.
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, who attended Thursday’s meeting with a pair of boxing gloves, said he is ready to oppose the proposed tax measures.
“I’m not going to budge on this and I will do what it takes to make sure the city of Toronto knows what’s going to hit them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coun. Joe Cressy said the city needs a way to pay for investing in infrastructure.
“Torontonians cannot afford to continue having our transit fall further and further behind, or have our Toronto Community Housing fall further into a state of disrepair. If we’re going to build a strong city, we’re going to have to put our money where our mouth is and pay for it,” he said.
The recommendations approved by the executive committee on Thursday still need to be reviewed and voted on by City Council at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 13.
By Nick Westol
Mark McAllister contributed to this report