Sketchy the Clown is currently running to be Mayor of Toronto on October 27th. If you like what you read here, you can follow him on Twitter at @SketchyTheClown.
One thing is sure about the Toronto Mayoral election, whomever wins, we will have a new mayor. So what do I think that mayor should do when they move into their new office? After spinning around in their new chair and checking what was left behind in the drawers from Ford’s administration, they need to pick up the phone and start calling. Why? Because Toronto needs more money. Even gravy train derailer Ford had to move to increase property taxes to pay for the proposed Scarbourough stubway. And that was just one project in one corner of the city. We have poo in the lake from our overtaxed sewage systems, trains full of grumpy commuters spilling their double doubles all over each other, so many buildings in disrepair in Toronto Housing that we are maybe the largest slum lord in North America and roads falling apart so badly that it is starting to look like Montreal around here.
How did this happen? All the banks and head offices are here, surely there should be lots of money here. Well, A few decades back, Paul Martin thought it would be a cool idea to stop giving as much allowance to the provinces so the federal government could balance their check book. It kind of worked, they had surpluses, but they also had scandals so Harper moved in. He found these surpluses and decided that we should just cut taxes so that people could buy more stuff or whatever. No paying down the debt or returning the allowance to the provinces. Well the provinces were caught flat footed and looked around to see what they could do. Here in Ontario the province said, “Hey Toronto, you are a big city now, pay for your own transit and welfare costs.” The mayor of that time was Mel Lastman and he just had to bend over and take it in the amalgamation. Past mayor David Miller tried to get the province to open up the City of Toronto Act and get more funding options. The Premier at the time, Dalton McGuinty, thought it was funny to punk Toronto by giving us the vehicle registration tax and the land transfer tax. Both of these were flawed and didn’t fairly apportion the tax burden. Miller also tried to push the federal government into doing something but Harper laughs at his home town of Toronto from his oil rig in Ottawa. Ford upset the provincial government so much that the Premier wouldn’t take his calls and probably blocked him on Facebook.
How can this new mayor scrape up some cash? We’ve already looked behind the cushions on the couch and taken back the empties to the beer store. Time for some new or old ideas.
Grab the airport tax money
The Toronto International Airport isn’t even in Toronto. It borders on Toronto and has our name and planes fly over us. The dirty secret here is that the airport is in Mississauga. Despite the denials from some local residents, no one wants to fly to Mississauga. No one. Ever. Yet it is a big piece of land that is a huge tax cash cow for the land of strip malls that is Mississauga. So how about we charge them for using the name? Maybe a billion a year or something like that? I don’t hear any Toronto taxpayers complaining about this idea. Seems like a pretty low re-election risk move on the part our new mayor.
Anything But Road tolls
Lots of people suggest road tolls as a way to cut traffic and increase funding. I don’t have a car, but I still think this is a terrible idea. I suspect that the people who suggest this just want to stick it to the suburbanites in the 905 area code and have made this suggestion under the guise of it being a solution. I have experienced traffic jams on the 401 at 2am. More than once. Putting toll booths in is really going to mess things up. Also, people will just drive through neighbourhoods as an alternate route and mess up traffic internally, just like when they close the highways for repairs or for charity tricycle races. If they really want to mess with the 905, just steal their airport tax revenue!
Smarter property taxes
Toronto has a lower property tax rate than the surrounding areas. So you think we could just raise it a bit and all would be good. That probably wouldn’t fly. People have been conditioned to think that all tax increases are bad. I suspect that they don’t even know all of the services that their tax dollars go towards. I also bet that they also complain about something that is underfunded. Since I’m not really a gambling man, I suggest we use a trickier way to milk more tax dollars. In the past property taxes were assessed based on the last sale price of a house and then some annual increase. With the property bubbles and condo fever this was dropped for market value assessment. Now even that is too out of date as they only revalue your property every four years. We should have the technology so that a bidding war for a house down the street should be able to siphon your bank account within minutes. The nice part of this is that you aren’t increasing the percentage, just the dollar amount that you take the percentage from. Never underestimate people’s difficulties understanding math.
With the province so mired in debt and deficit, maybe Miller was right and we should go to the feds with hat in hand. I’m sure a call to Trudeau asking for some infrastructure money, if he gets elected, in return for use of Nathan Phillips Square full of adoring voters cheering him on as he gets a $25 plastic ceremonial key to the city would be a very wise investment of a phone call and some petty cash. Wouldn’t that just burn Harper that all of his hard work to destroy the Liberal party and to wrest control of Canada from Toronto all goes down in flames by one phone call to the shiny pony?