City of Toronto Act
Miller salivates at new taxing powers
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Toronto mayor David Miller has announced that he is considering using the new taxing powers that were so graciously given to him by Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals with the passage of the City of Toronto Act. Miller is thinking about imposing a parking surcharge in the downtown core as well as at North York City Centre; areas of the city that are well serviced by public transit. This is not just a money grab for the overextended city you understand; the idea is to cut down pollution by “encouraging” more people to use the TTC, the alleged better way.
Now none of this is for sure. Miller is simply floating a trial balloon, but much like the drunk who ponders what he’ll do when he gets inside the bar he’s walking into, we all know what will ultimately happen. Taxes will go up.
What is absolutely shocking about Miller’s pronouncement is not what he said but the timing of his statement. He wasted no time in telling Torontonians that he will use the powers that he skillfully downplayed during the election campaign. It’s still November; only two weeks since he was easily re-elected. The smart money said that he would wait until at least December before making a tax grab using the City of Toronto Act (I had December 7 in the pool). You can say this for our David; despite the fact that he has been criticized for not doing anything, the guy’s no slacker.
Newly elected councillor Adam Vaughan had an even better idea. He suggested that people who park should be taxed according to what type of car they drive. Those with gas guzzlers should pay more to park than those with environmentally friendly hybrids. The mind boggles at how many overpaid union bureaucrats will be employed in analyzing and categorizing all the various vehicles that park in the city. Vaughan hasn’t even taken his seat yet and he’s attempting to out-Miller Miller (look for Adam to run for the top job in 2010). There is however one good point about Vaughan’s suggestion. Lower income people are more likely to drive gas guzzling old clunkers than the beautiful people who buy electric cars in order to save not only the city but the planet. And it’s about time that the poor in this city pay more; why should the rich be the only ones forced to pay for new street furniture?
Many of the lower income people who drive pollution-spewing cars are immigrants who recently arrived in this country. This new tax will serve them right for coming to Canada and settling in Toronto after having left their bicycles behind. This proposal will force them to stay in Scarborough where they belong. And if they really, really want to drive downtown, let them get a job driving taxis.
Of course added parking charges in the downtown core will be a disincentive for tourists to come here. Those who drive to the city from such places as Buffalo to go to the theatre or a sporting event already have to put up with gridlock and high parking charges. Any new taxes are likely to make a difference in tourists who are inclined to stay away because of the added costs. And the higher parking fees will deter those from the suburbs from travelling downtown to restaurants and entertainment venues when they can always drive somewhere else and park, many times for free.
Business and tourism has never been a priority for Miller except to the extent that spending billions on a good looking waterfront will draw tourists. An increase in parking costs will only accelerate the number of businesses that are fleeing the downtown core for the 905 area. All new parking fees will really mean is that the death of the downtown core will be speeded up a bit.
Toronto residents should not be upset at the possibility of parking cost increasing. The mayor and his car-hating council have just received a strong mandate to do what Miller is proposing to do. Until the voters start to take municipal elections more seriously, we can expect a lot more taxes and surcharges in the future.