Residents asked to consider taxes, levies to fund transit | CTV Toronto News

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Residents asked to consider taxes, levies to fund transit

The city’s executive committee has approved a series of public consultations so residents can share their views on a number of taxes and levies being considered to help expand public transit in the GTA.

The public will soon have the opportunity to weigh in on a list of 10 potential sources of funding that city manager Joe Pennachetti and chief financial officer Cam Weldon presented in a report.

Among the options on the table are a one per cent sales tax, increased income taxes, new property development charges, parking levies and road tolls.

Funds are needed to help pay for Metrolinx’s $50-billion long-term transit plan that would cover the GTA and Hamilton. The plan calls for increased service, more bus routes and four approved light rail transit lines in Toronto.

The city must pay $4 billion in funding a year to help pay for the expansion, in addition to the $2 billion it currently pays to Metrolinx for their various projects.

City manager Pennachetti said it will take more than one or two of the tools on the list to help cover the costs.

“We believe it will take probably multiple revenues,” he said.

But Mayor Rob Ford said that new taxes or fees are simply not an option.

“People in the city are up to their eyeballs in taxes and they can barely keep their head above water,” said Ford. “I’m not going to implement a new tax or new user fee.”

Both the mayor and his brother Coun. Doug Ford believe the city should instead be look at forming Private-Public-Partnerships to help fund transit.

According to Doug Ford there’s more than enough money out there to help cover the costs, although he did not offer specifics.

“The money’s there. Billions of dollars are there to invest in Canada,” he said.

Meanwhile, the union representing Toronto transit workers launched a massive public relations campaign on Tuesday.

The campaign, titled “Protecting What Matters,” includes three 30-second television commercials, one 90-second movie theatre trailer and thousands of TTC posters.

The commercials show several TTC employees doing a variety of jobs, including subway maintenance, track construction and cleaning.

“We take care of the details that take care of you,” a narrator says near the end of the 90-second commercial.

It is the largest public campaign ever launched by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents 9,000 TTC workers. The price tag was about $1 million.

The campaign comes on the heels of a decision made by city council to contract out more than 150 cleaning jobs. The city says the decision will save $4.2 million.

ATU 113 President Bob Kinnear said he hopes the campaign will inform the public on the role workers play in the Toronto transit system. He said the commission has failed to highlight the benefits of unionized labour.

“By initiating this campaign we are hoping to bring some of those thoughts to the forefront and better enable the public to make decisions – better informed decisions,” Kinnear told reporters on Tuesday.

“We think, quite frankly, that the commission has over the years done a piss poor job in actually advocating the efficiencies of the TTC, and the efficiencies that the workers provide to the Toronto Transit Commission.”

The 90-second commercial has been posted to YouTube for the past month and has been viewed more than 100,000 times.

With files from CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding, Natalie Johnson and The Canadian Press

Brandon Lee Cell 416-471-0353, HL/Bayview

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