Following our last client update on parking levies on May 1, 2013, there have been many new developments in transportation within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
On May 27, 2013, Metrolinx released their final recommendations for how Ontario should fund The Big Move transit plan, intended to relieve gridlock within Hamilton and the GTA.
The recommendations are centered around a one per cent harmonized sales tax increase, which would raise 65 per cent of the total funds needed to complete Metrolinx’s $50 billion, 25-year plan. Metrolinx also recommended:
- a five-cent per litre gas tax,
- a commercial parking levy on all off-street, non-residential parking spaces
- a 15-per-cent hike in development charges,
- high occupancy toll lanes with an average rate of 30 cents/km, and
- “pay for parking” at transit stations, with an average fee of $2 to $4 per day.
Combined, all of the recommended revenue-generating tools would raise $2 billion annually to be saved in a dedicated transit trust fund, as opposed being pooled with general provincial government revenue.
The proposed changes would cost the average household about $477 per year. However, for a family of five with an above-average income and two cars driven a total of 40,000 kilometres a year, the various tax-hikes and fees would cost closer to $1,000 annually.
Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray stressed the importance of moving forward with the Metrolinx’s plan, noting that gridlock currently costs families about $1,600 each year.
Kathleen Wynn’s minority Liberal government is establishing an advisory panel, “to help guide our next steps,” but will ultimately need the support of either the Progressive Conservatives or the New Democrats for any of Metrolinx’s recommendations to be implemented.
Neither opposition party, however, has come out in favour of the proposed fund-raising tools. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters that “New Democrats won’t support new household taxes, [or] new household fees. We think it’s the wrong way to go.”
Businesses surveyed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce supported highway tolls and a fuel tax, while the Toronto Region Board of Trade also endorsed a fuel tax.