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Report calls for 20 per cent tax hike for Torontonians

Last Updated Mar 1, 2019 at 5:46 pm EST

City of Toronto skyline as seen in an undated file photo. CITYNEWS/Hughes Cormier

A new study from Ryerson University suggests Torontonians should get ready to pay a lot more in property taxes.

Using data from the 2016 census, the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development suggests a 20 per cent tax hike is needed to pay for the necessary infrastructure upgrades and future projects to deal with population growth.

The report says such an increase would be stretched out over several years.

“The City of Toronto faces a growing financial challenge in its need to replace deteriorating infrastructure and to add new infrastructure in response to demands for enhanced city services as a result of population growth,” says Frank Clayton, the report’s author.

“It is often suggested that the senior governments should provide a share of their income tax or HST revenue to the City to fund these needs. However, it seems unlikely that this will happen in the foreseeable future. Rather, our approach is to explore whether higher municipal property taxes could be used to finance the infrastructure and services being demanded by city residents,” says Clayton.

City council is set to debate a proposed $13.46 billion budget for 2019 which includes a residential tax rate increase of 2.55 per cent. Mayor John Tory has made it a point in each of his first two terms to keep annual tax hikes at or near the rate of inflation.

“Despite a tough budget year, the proposed budget includes no service cuts, makes additional investments in many areas – including transit, policing, housing, and libraries – and delivers again on the Mayor’s promise to keep tax increases at the rate of inflation,” read a statement from the mayor’s office to CityNews.

The report shows Torontonians spent just 2.74 per cent of their annual income on property taxes, which is the second lowest in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and well below the average of 3.5 per cent. Even a 20 per cent hike would only put Toronto in the middle of the pack of 28 other municipalities.

Milton, Hamilton and Burlington were among the municipalities paying less in average tax than Toronto, according to the study.

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