Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow is vowing to fund her transit platform with an increased municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) on the city’s wealthiest residents.
If elected, Chow would propose a one per cent hike on the levy charged to properties sold for over $2 million.
The tax would raise $20 million a year on the approximately 500 houses and condos that sell annually for that price and more, Chow said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Under the current MLTT, a two per cent levy is charged on properties sold for over $400,000. Under Chow’s proposal, homes sold for more than $2 million would face a three per cent levy.
The average selling price for Toronto homes was $550,700 in July, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Click here for more on the municipal land transfer tax rates.
The funds would go towards the increased bus service — including maintenance and storage facilities — that Chow has already promised and to funding engineering studies for the downtown relief subway line.
“We can’t build the subway relief line if we don’t invest now. And you have to be very clear about where the money will come from,” Chow said.
She criticized fellow candidate and front-runner John Tory for offering unfunded transit solutions.
Chow called her proposal a “more progressive tax system” that she believes many like-minded Torontonians would support.
“I’m sure those people who can afford $2- or $10-million homes, adding one per cent … I don’t think it’s too much. I think it’s fair. It’s progressive.”
School food programs
Chow also proposed an expansion of Toronto’s “student nutrition programs” to cover an additional 36,000 students at a cost of $2 million.
“Cities with kids at their heart have stronger families and stronger neighbourhoods,” said Chow in a news release. “Expanding child nutrition programs now is a worthy investment because when we care for children better, we build a stronger future.”
The existing program provides morning meals and snacks to 149,000 school children through school and community sites.
Click here to see a sample menu.
The programs are paid for through a combination of fundraising, corporate sponsorship, city funds, provincial funds, school board money and not-for-profit assistance.
Mobile users click here to watch a City of Toronto video about student nutrition programs.
Lagging poll numbers
Chow brushed off questions about her recent slide in the polls that has her trailing Tory and Rob Ford, according to Forum Research.
“I’ve won 10 elections. I’ve been an underdog before,” Chow said.
I asked Chow if she is feeling pressure from her “left base” to be more progressive, she said no. #topoli
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) September 2, 2014