LEVY: Is a climate tax in the cards for Torontonians?

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LEVY: Is a climate tax in the cards for Torontonians?
Sue-Ann Levy
November 5, 2019
November 5, 2019 8:28 AM EST
People take part in a climate change strike in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2019. (Reuters)
On Oct. 2 — determining the climate was right to jump on the global warming bandwagon — Mayor John Tory and council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency in Toronto.
Not only did Tory move a motion — which was seconded by Mike Layton — but he made it his key item at that council meeting.
All the 39 bureaucrats currently overseeing the city’s Transform TO plan (the latest name for the climate action plan) had to hear was that council was “naming, framing and deepening” its commitment to protect the city from climate change to know that they had been given the green light to spend much more money to try to reach impossible greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.
Those efforts have spawned a TransformTO month-long $50,000 consultation process to test market — so to speak — a series of ideas that are sure to make heads explode.
These ideas are contained in an online survey and in a cheesy virtue-signalling 30-page community guide, which is to assist the five groups holding a “community conversation” on climate change this week before the Nov. 11 deadline.
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The section that caught my eye was financial tools and governance — defined as “new ways to raise revenue” to pay for accelerated climate action. Let’s call it new ways to harvest the money our council believes grows on trees.
The most outrageous of the ideas proposed is a climate action property tax — a dedicated charge on the property tax bill to raise funds specifically for climate action initiatives that “improve health; grow the economy, increase resilience and improve social equity.” (Who writes this crap?)
I take particular exception to that because back in 2005, Mayor David Miller, the champion of all things environmental, argued that garbage costs should be taken off the property tax bill to have dedicated funds for waste diversion.
The other proposal is a parking space levy — an annual, per-space charge levied on owners of non-residential, off-street parking spaces to encourage people to use transit and active transportation.
In the area of transportation, the survey and cheesy booklet propose expanding transit-priority zones beyond King St.
Oh, joy. We knew that was coming under our leftist damn-the-torpedoes, anti-car council.
The other suggestions are to explore car-free zones and to look at congestion-management pricing — that is, charging motorists a fee to enter the busiest part of the city, particularly during rush hour (not that we can distinguish the difference anymore).
The plan also calls for more walking and cycling — meaning more bike lanes — and the installation of new on-street chargers and downtown charging stations for electric vehicles.
Since Transform TO came to be in 2017, some $15.4-million has been allocated to get those greenhouse gas emissions down in the buildings, transportation and waste sectors. I can only imagine what will be spent on the new plan.
But Transform TO’s own statistics show that as of 2016, GHGs dropped by 33% compared to estimated 1990 levels. The goal is to double that by 2030 and get to 80% by 2050, which seems highly ambitious and downright impractical.
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Other goals suggest that 75% of trips under five kilometres are to be made by walking or cycling by 2050 — completely ignoring the fact that the youngest baby boomers will be in their 80s and 90s (and not be able to cycle!)
Nevertheless, I predict this will become nothing short of a religion at City Hall now — taxpayers be damned, practicalities be damned.
City spokesman Valerie Cassells said the four city-orchestration consultation sessions — held throughout October — were attended by 10 staff in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York and 30 in downtown Toronto.
This is far more than the number of staff I’ve seen at any town hall/guilt session held by the city’s shelter, support and housing officials before siting a new respite shelter or permanent shelter.
Cassells said we should see the new climate change plan sometime in the spring.
Can’t wait.
They should try raising the revenue on a volunteer basis first see what the interest is from the CC truthers, if they truly believe they should have no problem donating to the cause, no?

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