The mayor’s executive committee has unanimously approved a plan to hike property taxes in order to pay for transit and housing.
Mayor John Tory first proposed the hike to the city building levy, which is part of property tax, earlier this week.
The proposal will now go before city council on Dec. 17 for final approval.
For the last few years, Tory has been steadfastly against raising property taxes above the rate of inflation, saying people in this city could not afford it.
Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, Tory said the city can’t afford not to act.
“The city is so successful now and we are, to some extent, victims of our own success in that we have thousands of people who are coming here, who want to come here to work and to invest and it’s all good news for the future in terms of jobs for kids and all that … but you need to have affordable housing for them to live in and you need to have transit to move them around,” Tory said.
The mayor has proposed extending the city building fund for another six years and increasing the property tax levy to almost 10 per cent over that span, starting with a 1.5 per cent increase in 2020 and 2021. The increase is expected to cost the average household $43 more a year.
While no one likes to hear that their taxes are going up, Tory feels the people of Toronto understand the long-term goals the city wants to achieve.
“People are generally understanding of this but in the end you have to let these things play themselves out, not just over a week or a month, but over a period of time. I think that when people actually see the transit getting built, when they see the affordable housing units actually getting occupied … they will understand what we did here and know that it would have been better than doing nothing.”
City manager Chris Murray said the city is trying to find tens of millions of dollars in savings to make sure their books are clear of waste before they dip into the pockets of taxpayers.
“I don’t want anyone thinking that when we come to the 2020 budget that there won’t be in the millions, efficiencies that we’re going to put forward,” said Murray.
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.