#Ontario’s 2017-2018 budget, #affordable housing, #public transit, #child care, #TorontoCommunityHousing, #JohnTory, #CharlesSousa, #PatrickBrown, #AndreaHorwath
Toronto Mayor John Tory was thankful to Ontario’s 2017-2018 budget which allowedToronto to tax both hotel and vacant properties, but his main concern was that Toronto had failed to receive funds for fixing crumbling housing, media reports said.
Tory’s call on province to pay attention in its budget on affordable housing, public transit and child care, had only been partially met, said Tory, CBCNews reports said.
Tory said he had told the province ahead of the budget that city was in urgent need for over $800 million to help fix Toronto Community Housing (TCH) buildings but this was missing in the budget.
To this Finance Minister Charles Sousa had told reporters that the 2017-18 budget had done a lot for Toronto adding around $2 billion over a three-year span on issues like affordable housing, social housing and anti-homelessness measures.
He also added the budget included an offer up to $100 million worth of land to build approximately 2,000 affordable housing units in Toronto and that Toronto could avail of Social Infrastructure Fund it will also get a cut of the three-year $640-million plan.
Tory said these funds would not be sufficient for TCH’s multi-billion dollar repair backlog with about 100 more units expected to be added.
At city hall, several councillors opposed the budget’s plan in lack of social housing money.
"Right now, we don't have a partner for the social housing issue in the provincial government," said Coun. Ana Bailao, who is also the chair of the affordable housing committee, CBCNews reports said.
Sousa said that according to the present budget the City of Toronto Act would soon be amended to allow transient accommodations including hotels and home-sharing services like Airbnb to be taxed, but added Sousa, the Act would also include a regulation requiring Toronto to spend a part of the revenues to promote tourism in the area.
PC Leader Patrick Brown objected and said, "it wouldn't be a Liberal budget if we didn't have some sort of tax," CBCNews reports said.
Brown opposed the city's road toll proposal and asked province to spend its infrastructure money more prudently to allow Toronto to get better funds.
City staff had suggested four percent tax on hotels, and a 10 percent tax on short-term rentals. This proposal also covered small municipalities.
Sousa argued that the option to tax vacant properties to encourage the home owners to sell their vacant properties and make them available for renting.
It also accounted for a large percentage of the $2.7 billion in land transfer tax revenue, said Sousa and added the budget had given the city of Toronto the option to use its own discretion to determine and administer the vacant property tax.
"We build prudence into our plan," Sousa said, CBCNews reports said.
The city council had also objected to the ambiguous statement in the budget that out of nearly 100,000 new child care spaces, nearly a quarter of these spaces would open this year, but the statement did not clarify how many of those spaces will open in Toronto.
To this the Ontario government said that it was committed to work with municipalities to expand its plans and said an ambitious 10-year child care plan had just been approved.
Tory had also objected to funding transit projects and said although $56 billion worth of transit projects was included in the new budget, there was no additional funds.
Sousa assured Tory that talks with the federal government was ongoing on how to fund the next phase of projects.
"We're just going through the process," Sousa said when asked about the lack of a signature transit investment in this year's financial plan, CBCNews reports said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said there are "no real transit improvements" in this budget, and said her party would fund 50 per cent of operating costs should she be elected.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
Images of John Tory and Charles Sousa: