Toronto Board of Trade not pleased with potential commercial parking tax
Toronto City Hall on May 14, 2022. Photo: Flickr.
As Toronto continues mulling over ways to get this city back on steady financial footing, a commercial parking tax is one proposal that is once again on the table.
TTC advocates are all for it while the business community has a very different reaction.
A new report released Thursday from the city manager and interim chief financial officer outlines options on how the city can increase revenue in the wake of major deficits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
City council is facing an immediate $1.5 billion hole and a $46.5 billion budget deficit over the next decade.
Large shopping centers, strip malls, grocery stores and medical and office buildings are some locations that could be targeted by a commercial parking levy.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade is not behind a move like this and with a one percent sales tax on goods and services also being considered.
Executive Vice President Giles Gherson tells CityNews there will be consequences. “That parking levy will undoubtedly be passed on to tenants of the building and then passed down on to customers and employees.”
“We pay high commercial taxes in the city, and this is essentially an add-on to the commercial tax rate. It makes it harder to attract business,” said Gherson. “It’s been looked at twice before I think on 2007 and 20016 and both times rejected and I think rejected for good reason.”
Last week, city staff presented 29 revenue-generating tools to help fill the massive budget hole and alleviate forecasted financial struggles over the next decade. The parking tax could generate about $490 million a year and transit advocates are all for it.
“We’ve seen TTC cuts, and we are losing ridership so what we need is to bring riders back to the system and we do that by reversing service cuts and funding transit,” said Monica Mason with TTCriders.
“There is an additional benefit long term that some of those parking lots will be turned into things like housing or other development but short-term, we just want to make transit better.”
A commercial parking levy is one revenue tool that would not require approval from the Province, unlike a sales tax. Mayor Olivia Chow was asked Monday about how those talks are going with Premier Doug Ford.
“What’s encouraging though is that no one has said no, I am always an optimist in order to do what I do,” said Chow.
The city does want to hear from residents about these tax proposals and will be holding deputations at the next executive committee meeting on Thursday.