2007-11-17

The Federal Government Should Not Give Money to Toronto

I wish someone would explain to me why mayors of the richest cities in Canada "need" money from our federal government. If the Federal government gave money to rural regions and towns across the poorer regions, you could at least attribute it to jealousy. But no. The mayors of the Toronto area, and the Toronto Star, have decided that the Federal Government is some sort of piggy bank that they need to cash in to.

"Mississauga took the extraordinary step of placing a 5 per cent surcharge on property taxes. McCallion led the charge for the levy – needed, she said, because the city faces an infrastructure crisis.

It will raise $12.5 million a year, far short of the $76 million needed in each of the next 20 years to pay for an estimated $1.5 billion in repair and replacement of aging bridges, buildings, roadways and water systems."

Isn't great that a politician stays in office so long that her own mismanagement bites her on her ass. Hazzle McCallion has been a popular mayor all those years because she kept property taxes low, very low. Too low, an now the underfunding of municipal infrastructure (and terrible land use planning) is getting expensive. And how is this the federal government's fault?

The politician who spends should be the politician who taxes.


""The fate of the country is at stake," said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who added that his voters will face a stark choice: a share of the GST or a 30 per cent property tax increase."

No, Mayor Burton, the fate of the country is NOT at stake. Raise the municipal taxes by 30 percent (or $900 on a $300,000 home). My parents in rural New Brunswick should not be funding Oakville's infrastructure any more than Oakville residents should be paying for my parent's septic system.

Perhaps we should just get rid of local government and have Ottawa decide everything. We could eliminate provincial and municipal taxes. There would be one national income tax system. And then, on average, Torontonians would be spending SIGNIFICANTLY MORE in taxes, simply because Toronto area residents earn, on average, significantly more than other Canadians (so they pay more federal taxes)!

Advocating an Increase in the responsibilities of our federal government is the equivalent of advocating the increasing of taxes for Toronto area residents.

But regardless of how "fair" that would be, we live in a gigantic, regionally diverse country. Let's keep government local. Unless, that is, you want a politicians in Alberta and Quebec deciding which Toronto pot holes to fix.



From today's Toronto Star:
City officials unanimous that help needed now from Ottawa to repair crumbling infrastructure
Nov 17, 2007 04:30 AM

STAFF REPORTER

The mayors of 15 of Ontario's largest cities are unanimous in their demand that Ottawa give them money "now" to cope with an infrastructure crisis – but they can't agree on a name for the campaign.

After meeting for more than four hours yesterday at Oshawa's General Motors Centre, the mayors, led by Mississauga's Hazel McCallion, emerged to announce their agreement that "cities need money now."

The next step is to pressure federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who represents Whitby, to indicate in his spring budget that he is prepared to help cities, McCallion said.

But there's no consensus on the slogan.

McCallion, who recently launched her "Cities NOW!" campaign, had hoped to lead a national campaign on that theme.

But also present in the room was Toronto Mayor David Miller, who already has his "One Cent Now" campaign demanding a share of Ottawa's GST.

Mississauga hasn't signed on to the Miller plan so far, and McCallion was noncommital on it yesterday, while supporting the compromise resolution's call to share the "equivalent of one cent of the GST with cities and communities."

McCallion got only a commitment that the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario supports her campaign as one tailored for her municipality. Miller – whose "One Cent Now" hopes were deflated by Flaherty's recent decision to cut the GST instead of giving money to municipalities – said that as far as he was concerned, Mississauga's campaign was the same as his.

"It's very helpful when Ontario's longest serving mayor speaks up and says that we need this funding now," he said.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti spoke, like many others, of the concern that Canada's economic engine, its urban areas, would sputter the way American cities did before federal and state governments stepped in. "We don't want to see the same decline they experienced south of the border," Scarpitti said.

"The fate of the country is at stake," said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who added that his voters will face a stark choice: a share of the GST or a 30 per cent property tax increase.

As the mayors hastily left the news conference, it was left to Oshawa Mayor John Gray to explain that a campaign name had been discussed but dropped.

"It is not about whose program is what," said Gray, describing how the meeting tried to "skirt around the issue" because no one wanted personalities to get in the way of the cause.

"People want to make sure their campaign is on the forefront," said Gray. "At the end of the day, Hazel acquiesced and understood it's about one program and one voice."

The otherwise routine mayors' meeting garnered attention after Mississauga took the extraordinary step of placing a 5 per cent surcharge on property taxes. McCallion, who chaired yesterday's gathering, led the charge for the levy – needed, she said, because the city faces an infrastructure crisis.

It will raise $12.5 million a year, far short of the $76 million needed in each of the next 20 years to pay for an estimated $1.5 billion in repair and replacement of aging bridges, buildings, roadways and water systems.

The surcharge was also meant to draw attention to a growing national backlog in infrastructure maintenance, expected to cost $100 billion over the next 20 years.

Toronto's backlog of about $7 billion is arguably worse because, unlike Mississauga, the city is heavily in debt.

In the same issue of the Toronto Star, an article about a condo going being sold for 25 million dollars! Now that is irony.
Gail Swainson Nov. 17, 2007
A Hong Kong businessman is Canada's newest King of the Castle – and he didn't even have to stand in line to buy his $25 million penthouse suite.

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