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Should Toronto tax parking? Transit advocacy group wants new

ผู้เขียน: ที่มา:ต้นฉบับ วันที่:2023-01-17

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Should Toronto tax parking? Transit advocacy group wants new levy to help pay for TTC CBC News Loaded

Should Toronto tax parking? Transit advocacy group wants new levy to help pay for TTC

A transit advocacy group says the city is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in needed tax revenue on the table each year because it hasnt imposed a tax on parking around the city.

City needs the additional revenue to stave off service cuts, TTCRiders says

Posted: Jan 16, 2023 4:00 AM EST Last Updated: January 16

TTCRiders says city council should consider imposing a tax on commercial parking lots like this one at Sherway Gardens. The group says the measure could raise hundreds of millions in revenue, according to some reports.(Patrick Morrell/CBC)

The City of Toronto is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in needed tax revenue on the table each year because it hasnt imposed a tax on parking, a transit advocacy group says.

TTCRiders says had Toronto implemented the commercial parking levy after it was first examined in 2016, the city could have raised as much as $2.8 billion. And the group says it wants city council to take another look at the tax as they work on the 2023 budget, which will cut TTC services.

This is a potentially transformative tool that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year for climate and public transit, said TTCRiders director Shelagh Pizey-Allen.

Its a parking levy on big malls and commercial lots. And it has been talked about, but staff have never studied how can we implement it here in Toronto?

The group is set to announce a renewed push to have city staff examine the tax Monday morning.

It comes ahead of city councils potential approval of TTCs operating budget for 2023, which includes fare hikes and service cuts set to come into effect this spring.

Higher fares for less service? A breakdown of what the TTCs budget means for riders

You can see Torontos 2023 budget presentation here

Last year, the commission was set to provide 180,200 total hours of service. With this new plan, the number of total hours served will fall to 164,200, representing a roughly nine per cent decrease across the board.

Pizey-Allen says the group is pulling its figures from a pair of city reports on how much the tax could generate from the city.

In 2016, a report from consultants KPMG estimated the levy could raise between $131 to $535 million a year. In 2021, a city staff report said the revenues could range between $191 to $575 million a year.

Those estimates are based on charging the owners of the lots a $1.50 per day, per parking spot.

Transit advocates say a parking tax could help stave off fare hikes and service cuts that will hurt people who rely on the TTC to get around the city.(CBC)

Neither report broke down in detail the intricacies of how Toronto could adopt the measure.

KPMGs report said it could take up to two years to create a regime to administer the tax. The consultants also warned that there could be negative consequences for the city if it were to adopt the tax. That included harming both small and large businesses and creating a disincentive for businesses to set up shop in the city.

Pizey-Allen said the tax could be deployed in a strategic way to avoid harming small businesses and in specific areas of the city. These are all questions the advocates would like to see staff study, she said.

Theres been a lot of reports but what hasnt come forward publicly is what are the options for implementing this in Toronto, so we can have a real debate, she said.

Coun. Chris Moise, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, says hes hoping to change that. Moise says he plans to ask city staff to study the tax and how it could be implemented.

With a $993-million budget shortfall this year and cuts to the TTC on the table, no option for new revenue should be discounted, he said.

I feel that we have to be creative in how we actually generate revenue, he said. And I believe the commercial tax levy for parking is one way to do that.

Moise, who is also a TTC commissioner, said he thinks the parking tax could help stave off future cuts that hurt people who depend on transit and cant afford fare hikes.

I think we need to look at this differently, he said. Using an equity lens to make sure that we support those who need the help the most.

Mayor John Tory is seen here announcing up to $2 billion in housing related spending as part of Torontos 2023 budget at city hall last week. He says hes been told by city staff a parking tax wouldnt raise the revenues previous reports have estimated.(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory has denied that the city could have raised over $500 million a year with such a tax. Staff have told him the revenue estimates for the tax would be lower, he said last week.

And it would take time to carefully plan and avoid harming church communities and small businesses, Tory added.

Ive asked for and received two reports, please go and read them, Tory said.

And youll see that they have plenty of complexities which just dont make it an easy thing to do. And thats not the responsible way to run the government. And I wont run the government that way.

Torontos property tax to go up 5.5% as part of 2023 budget: Tory

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Tory said he has implemented some measures from the KPMG report, including the citys hotel tax, which is set to increase by two per cent in the 2023 budget.

In 2017, the mayor attempted to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to raise $200 million a year for the city, but the plan was rejected by the Liberal government of then-premier Kathleen Wynne.

Tory said any talk of new revenue tools wont be enough to address the citys fiscal woes alone. The city needs a better long-term financial deal from the federal and provincial governments, he said.

It cant be done in isolation from a real discussion about how cities are financed, especially the City of Toronto, he said.

Shawn Jeffords is CBC Torontos Municipal Affairs Reporter. He has previously covered Queens Park for The Canadian Press. You can reach him by emailing shawn..

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