Revolt brewing over proposed Toronto taxes
A revolt is brewing at city hall over new proposed taxes that Mayor David Miller says are needed to help cash-strapped Toronto.
Several citizens' groups have organized campaigns to have residents phone, email and fax their displeasures to councillors and the mayor.
Some business leaders and councillors strongly object to the land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee, "revenue tools" Miller says would raise $356 million each year.
The mayor says the city needs the money to deal with a backlog of road repairs, expanding public transit and investing in poor neighbourhoods, among other things.
"My mandate is to make sure the city grows for the future and that we have the investments that are needed for the people of this city," Miller told reporters on Friday.
"We're doing everything that we can to live up to that mandate, and that's why we're preparing these measures to council next week."
Councillors on both sides of the issue say Monday's vote at city hall will be tight. With 45 members on council, including the mayor, 23 votes are needed to win if everyone shows up.
"We can usually get 18 votes," right-wing councillor Case Ootes, who opposes the taxes, told the Toronto Star.
"The challenge will be to get five or six votes who have the courage to stand up to the mayor."
Miller maintains residents support the notion of increased taxes as long as the money is being used properly, such as essential city services.
But a poll released Thursday suggests otherwise. The survey done by a number of interest groups showed almost 70 per cent of Torontonians believe taxes should not be implemented until they are debated during the 2010 municipal election.
Some 70 per cent of respondents supported a cut in expenditures rather than new taxes if the province doesn't provide funding.
A whopping 86 per cent who voted for Miller say there was little to no discussion of new taxes during last fall's election, while almost 40 per cent of Miller supporters say they would be less likely to support a candidate in favour of the proposed taxes.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation believes a vocal backlash from residents can prevent the implementation of proposed taxes.
"We've got a new garbage tax, new land transfer tax, new vehicle registration tax, proposed sidewalk tax, a proposed liquor sales tax, a proposed billboard tax and a proposed tax on a bunch of environmental things like coffee cups and plastic bags," said spokesperson Kevin Gaudet.
"All it does is take away cash from our pockets. This city is expensive as it is, we can't afford to be taxed like this."
The proposed land transfer tax would cost residents an additional $5,700 on the purchase of the average priced home of $380,000, while the vehicle registration fee will cost motorists an additional $60 a year.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown