Tory proposes tax increase for transit, affordable housing
Posted December 4, 2019 11:35 am.
Last Updated December 4, 2019 2:52 pm.
Toronto homeowners could see their property taxes rise as the City of Toronto looks to invest in transit and affordable housing.
Mayor John Tory is proposing an increase in the City Building Fund, which would see one per cent added on to the existing 0.5 per cent levy in 2020 and 2021.
“By approving an increase in this levy, which I will propose to the council, one per cent more, and extending it over the next five years, we can raise needed funds that will be dedicated to improving our existing transit system and building more affordable housing across our city,” Tory said on Wednesday.
The City said this increase would cost the average Toronto household $43 more a year.
The mayor said that while the city has worked at finding efficiencies, Toronto needs more money.
Tory acknowledged that this is never a popular solution but he feels the people of Toronto understand the long-term goals the city wants to achieve.
“Any time you ask people to pay more, this is obviously something that is challenging in the context of governments and the people who lead them and the people who pay the bills,” Tory said.
“But I think the people of Toronto understand the need to protect the success we’ve achieved, to support people people who need support by building transit to give them access to opportunity, by making sure we have an adequate supply of affordable housing.”
City councillor Stephen Holyday made a point of speaking out against the proposal soon after it was announced by Tory.
“I have been a staunch opposer of tax increases,” he said. “I think citizens deserve to feel confident that City Hall is spending the current money that they are raising through taxes wisely. We need to tread carefully on raising taxes because it just makes life harder to live in the city.”
“Toronto is such an expensive city to begin with,” added councillor Mike Colle. “On the other hand, the other problem is we get constant demand for more policing, more traffic management, more help for the needy.”
James Pasternak, a member of Tory’s executive committee, defended the move.
“Nobody likes new taxes,” he said. “This is to get us over a hump, to make sure that we have the infrastructure, to protect homeowners, to protect renters and to protect those living in social housing.”
The money from the increased levy would help fund the city’s new 10-year, $23.4 billion action plan that would approve 40,000 affordable housing units, as well as go toward the TTC’s state of good repair.
“It will help raise the approximately $5 billion we need to invest in new subways, new subway signal systems, new streetcars, and station upgrades as part of the almost $30-billion transit agreement with the province,” Tory said.
The proposal will be presented when city council meets on Dec. 17.