EDITORIAL: Political will needed to make recommendations reality

News Mar 19, 2013 York Guardian

It’s hard to argue with Toronto Region Board of Trade President, Carol Wilding, who said the time for debating how to pay for transit expansion is over. We are decades into a problem that should have been discussed generations ago. However, providing funding recommendations like those in the TRBOT’s discussion paper, A Green Light To Moving The Toronto Region, doesn’t make funding a reality.

Compiled in the paper, released Monday, revenue tools recommended by the TRBOT include a one per cent regional sales tax to generate up to $1.6 billion a year; a $1 per parking space levy also raising $1.6 billion annually; a 10 cent per litre regional fuel tax bringing in as much as $840 million; and a road toll for high-occupancy lanes charged at 30 cents per kilometre for single drivers who wish to use the lanes, which would generate a maximum of $45 million annually.

“The debate is no longer if we need new revenue tools, but which ones,” Wilding said. “To succeed, all of us will have to contribute. All levels of government, the public and the private sector.”

All revenue raised is to be earmarked for transit expansion. Great. And if managed properly – and transparently – the nearly $5 billion annually for transit building would more than double the $2 billion Metrolinx says is needed each year for the $50 billion Big Move plan. The numbers are impressive. These are all worthy recommendations – but it all comes down to the increased taxation of people and the willingness of levels of government to impose such taxes. We’re a far cry from any government having that courage and despite the board’s assurances, from understanding what the public would accept.

The Board of Trade discounted using devices such as property tax or income tax hikes to fund transportation, citing them as revenue sources for municipal governments – and always under consideration to increase to keep municipalities afloat.

Whether in the form of a straight-out tax, a levy, or toll the end result is the same - money comes from the pockets of residents. We have said many times that we will get the kind of transit we pay for. Very true.

“There will be consultation and negotiation by the province, municipalities and other stakeholders, and they will ultimately decide the final recommendation,” Wilding said. “We need $2 billion for the Big Move, and we’ve put tools forward that will get us at least that far.”

The ambitious recommendations are what is needed. After all the region is losing $6 billion dollars in productivity annually. While the TBOT suggests upward of 50 percent of people would be willing to swallow taxes to fund transportation (to which TBOT says 88 per cent in another study says is in crisis) it’s never that easy to evaluate acceptance.

We do know this. You can’t tweak today’s revenue generation and come up with an answer that would raise the required capital to build the system and to maintain the operation. This paper offers dramatic new income sources to be considered. But is there a political will to carry any of these recommendations forward?

EDITORIAL: Political will needed to make recommendations reality

News Mar 19, 2013 York Guardian

It’s hard to argue with Toronto Region Board of Trade President, Carol Wilding, who said the time for debating how to pay for transit expansion is over. We are decades into a problem that should have been discussed generations ago. However, providing funding recommendations like those in the TRBOT’s discussion paper, A Green Light To Moving The Toronto Region, doesn’t make funding a reality.

Compiled in the paper, released Monday, revenue tools recommended by the TRBOT include a one per cent regional sales tax to generate up to $1.6 billion a year; a $1 per parking space levy also raising $1.6 billion annually; a 10 cent per litre regional fuel tax bringing in as much as $840 million; and a road toll for high-occupancy lanes charged at 30 cents per kilometre for single drivers who wish to use the lanes, which would generate a maximum of $45 million annually.

“The debate is no longer if we need new revenue tools, but which ones,” Wilding said. “To succeed, all of us will have to contribute. All levels of government, the public and the private sector.”

All revenue raised is to be earmarked for transit expansion. Great. And if managed properly – and transparently – the nearly $5 billion annually for transit building would more than double the $2 billion Metrolinx says is needed each year for the $50 billion Big Move plan. The numbers are impressive. These are all worthy recommendations – but it all comes down to the increased taxation of people and the willingness of levels of government to impose such taxes. We’re a far cry from any government having that courage and despite the board’s assurances, from understanding what the public would accept.

The Board of Trade discounted using devices such as property tax or income tax hikes to fund transportation, citing them as revenue sources for municipal governments – and always under consideration to increase to keep municipalities afloat.

Whether in the form of a straight-out tax, a levy, or toll the end result is the same - money comes from the pockets of residents. We have said many times that we will get the kind of transit we pay for. Very true.

“There will be consultation and negotiation by the province, municipalities and other stakeholders, and they will ultimately decide the final recommendation,” Wilding said. “We need $2 billion for the Big Move, and we’ve put tools forward that will get us at least that far.”

The ambitious recommendations are what is needed. After all the region is losing $6 billion dollars in productivity annually. While the TBOT suggests upward of 50 percent of people would be willing to swallow taxes to fund transportation (to which TBOT says 88 per cent in another study says is in crisis) it’s never that easy to evaluate acceptance.

We do know this. You can’t tweak today’s revenue generation and come up with an answer that would raise the required capital to build the system and to maintain the operation. This paper offers dramatic new income sources to be considered. But is there a political will to carry any of these recommendations forward?

EDITORIAL: Political will needed to make recommendations reality

News Mar 19, 2013 York Guardian

It’s hard to argue with Toronto Region Board of Trade President, Carol Wilding, who said the time for debating how to pay for transit expansion is over. We are decades into a problem that should have been discussed generations ago. However, providing funding recommendations like those in the TRBOT’s discussion paper, A Green Light To Moving The Toronto Region, doesn’t make funding a reality.

Compiled in the paper, released Monday, revenue tools recommended by the TRBOT include a one per cent regional sales tax to generate up to $1.6 billion a year; a $1 per parking space levy also raising $1.6 billion annually; a 10 cent per litre regional fuel tax bringing in as much as $840 million; and a road toll for high-occupancy lanes charged at 30 cents per kilometre for single drivers who wish to use the lanes, which would generate a maximum of $45 million annually.

“The debate is no longer if we need new revenue tools, but which ones,” Wilding said. “To succeed, all of us will have to contribute. All levels of government, the public and the private sector.”

All revenue raised is to be earmarked for transit expansion. Great. And if managed properly – and transparently – the nearly $5 billion annually for transit building would more than double the $2 billion Metrolinx says is needed each year for the $50 billion Big Move plan. The numbers are impressive. These are all worthy recommendations – but it all comes down to the increased taxation of people and the willingness of levels of government to impose such taxes. We’re a far cry from any government having that courage and despite the board’s assurances, from understanding what the public would accept.

The Board of Trade discounted using devices such as property tax or income tax hikes to fund transportation, citing them as revenue sources for municipal governments – and always under consideration to increase to keep municipalities afloat.

Whether in the form of a straight-out tax, a levy, or toll the end result is the same - money comes from the pockets of residents. We have said many times that we will get the kind of transit we pay for. Very true.

“There will be consultation and negotiation by the province, municipalities and other stakeholders, and they will ultimately decide the final recommendation,” Wilding said. “We need $2 billion for the Big Move, and we’ve put tools forward that will get us at least that far.”

The ambitious recommendations are what is needed. After all the region is losing $6 billion dollars in productivity annually. While the TBOT suggests upward of 50 percent of people would be willing to swallow taxes to fund transportation (to which TBOT says 88 per cent in another study says is in crisis) it’s never that easy to evaluate acceptance.

We do know this. You can’t tweak today’s revenue generation and come up with an answer that would raise the required capital to build the system and to maintain the operation. This paper offers dramatic new income sources to be considered. But is there a political will to carry any of these recommendations forward?