Taxes and tolls

Mayor introduces road tolls idea

Nov. 24, 2016

In a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday, Mayor John Tory introduced a proposal to add road tolls on the Gardiner and DVP (after it had been explained in stories on the front pages of The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star). The tolls idea is just one of a series of revenue-generating proposals that were released today, in a report that will be considered at the mayor’s Executive Committee next week.

The mayor’s pitch today was for a $2 toll for anyone using the roads, with the intention of raising $200 million a year. “To achieve an equivalent amount from property tax payers would involve an increase somewhere between 5 to 10%,” the mayor said.

Other options in the report include: adding a dedicated property tax levy for capital, allowing the commercial property tax rates to rise at the maximum allowed 50% of the residential property tax rate increase, harmonizing provincial and municipal land-transfer rates and rebates, changing the municipal land-transfer tax first-time homebuyers rebate eligibility criteria to include a maximum value of consideration, increase to the third-party sign tax, re-introducing a personal vehicle tax of up to $120 annually per four-wheeled vehicle, introducing graduated residential property tax rates, adding a parking sales tax, adding a municipal income tax, sharing the harmonized sales tax with municipalities, introducing a hotel and short-term accommodation rental tax, and introducing an alcohol tax at LCBO stores.

If council does move forward with tolling, the report says it could begin in 2019/2020, but the analysis assumed starting in 2024 after the Gardiner has been rebuilt.

The mayor also introduced the idea of increased property taxes of 1.5% for 2017 – if money cannot be found elsewhere, such as in a hotel/Airbnb tax combined with eliminating a tax rebate for owners of empty spaces in the downtown core. “In the absence of those two measures, just those two measures, in this forthcoming year we would have to increase property tax another 1.5% to achieve the same revenues,” the mayor said in his speech, adding he will be recommending both reforms to the budget committee to consider for implementation in 2017.