On February 19, City Council passed the 2020-2021 budget. This year we supported a modest increase in our capital funding through the city building levy. This additional $6.6 billion raised over the next 10 years will pay for much needed long-term transit and affordable housing. This revenue increase represents an important forward step in building the city we actually want - one that is inclusive, prosperous and globally competitive.
A big thank you to the community members, local organizations and residents who signed petitions, wrote emails and letters, and made phone calls. With your strong support I was able to work with the Mayor and City Council to achieve the following budget benefits for Ward 13 neighbourhoods and beyond!
- Save the Cabbagetown Youth Centre
- Provide full funding for the long awaited Regent Park Social Development Plan.
- Secure funding for the recommendations and actions contained in the Five-Year Action Plan.
- Fund $1.1M of streetscape improvements for the historic St Lawrence Neighbourhood.
- Secure enhanced funding for Yonge-Dundas Square to enhance their security operations.
- Fully fund the intersectional gender equality unit at City Hall.
City Council also approved my motion to initiate a Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPAC Response Working Group. Despite my recent success to cap taxes on small, independent businesses, there are indications that this sector, specifically LGBTQ2S+ establishments in The Village and other unique businesses will continue to experience commercial property tax stress while MPAC reforms remain unaddressed in Queen’s Park. This MPAC Response Working Group will work with the City’s financial planning staff, industry experts in consultations with councillors in high growth areas to find additional ways to address the impacts of out-of-control provincially imposed MPAC assessments. Early indications reveal that in 2020, the condominium market which has outpaced the growth of suburban single family homes will be seeing the same types of unsustainable assessment values that hit the small business sector particularly hard in 2017 and 2018.
This year I renewed my call to reinstate the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). Toronto has lost over half a billion dollars in revenue since cancelling the VRT in 2011. The foregone revenues of $55 million dollars from a single year of VRT collection paid exclusively by car owners ($60 per year) would have been allocated to TTC improvements, winter road maintenance and enhanced road safety or Vision Zero programs. This quantum represents an additional 1.75% higher property taxes which is now borne by every Toronto resident, both homeowners and tenants. Although my motion was defeated 7-18, I know this straightforward and ready to implement revenue tool will be re-introduced in the 2021 budget vote.
While the 2020 budget isn’t perfect - we are still relying too heavily on the unstable Municipal Land Transfer Tax and uncommitted funding from the Provincial and Federal Governments - there are some big wins for the City of Toronto and in particular for our local Ward 13 neighbourhoods, and for that I was proud to support this budget.
My final round of thanks goes to Mayor John Tory and Budget Chief Crawford for working with City Council to deliver a good outcome for residents and business owners in this year’s budget.