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New Toronto City Council:
the honeymoon is over

TORONTO – It may be all ex-Mayor John Tory’s fault. According to the City’s Executive Committee (CEC), in an action item, recommended for debate and adoption for Wednesday’s (today) Council Meeting, Toronto faces “financial challenges [in the amount of] $46.5 billion”. The actual budget was/is closer to $16 billion.

The CEC acknowledges that these capital and operating “challenges”/ “pressures” have occurred over the last ten years, accruing at the rate of $4.5 billion per annum all factors considered. The CEC adds that, “The analysis represented the City’s first 10-year consolidated operating and capital financial model.” What were they doing before?

To meet those challenges, which did not appear miraculously since the mayoralty by-election and were there when the vast majority of City councillors were at the helm prior to the last election, Council will recommend the imposition of certain measures (see https://secure.toronto.ca/council/agenda-item.do?item=2023.EX7.1).

First among the measures recommended for implementation will be a graduated Municipal Land Transfer Tax in the range of 3.5% to 7.5% for properties upon sale/registration with a value range of $3,000,000. To $20,000,000. That range is no longer the preserve of the uber-rich, but it is an appealing target for the politically motivated.

If you own a car and think that you might shop in places where parking is “free” to clients, think again. Ditto if you want to enjoy the extra vacant space in your property. The City proposes to tax and tax again, and again.

But it is not their fault, Councillors say. The Motion includes “an absolver statement” of what may follow. The motion “inform[s] the provincial and federal governments, in the absence of a new fiscal framework, the City will be required to reduce essential service levels and cancel capital projects, including those that contribute to intergovernmental priorities.”

In other words, if the other levels of government don’t pay more, the good citizens of Toronto will have to do so. Thirty-two people have registered to delegate, a further sixty-eight wrote in with commentary.

One can only assume that those who support the motion will have organized their supporters.

It may not matter. Thanks to Premier Doug Ford’s “Strong Mayor” legislation, Mayor Chow will need only eight Councilors on side to impose such taxes. One of them has “declared a conflict” and will not vote. His son, former Councilor Josh Colle, is employed with the accounting firm retained in the preparation of the plan.

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