City chips in for Scarborough subway with property tax hike

Toronto city council voted yesterday to pay for its share of the proposed Scarborough subway extension with a 1.6-per cent property tax increase.

The increase is to be phased in over three years: 0.5 per cent in each of the first two years and 0.6 per cent in the third.

According to a report by city manager Joe Pennachetti, the hike will mean the average family can expect to see a $41-a-year increase on their property tax bill.

The city shouldn’t have to pay more taxes. We already pay enough.

—Eyoel Negaye

“I think this is totally unfair,” Scarborough student and TTC commuter Eyoel Negaye said before city council’s Oct. 8 vote. “The city shouldn’t have to pay more taxes. We already pay enough. The government should find funding from other places instead.”

Projects like this one will have some tax consequence, said Scarborough-Guildwood MP John McKay.

There are no free rides in this world. You can’t pay for subway lines with fairy dust.

—MP John McKay

“There are no free rides in this world,” he said before the city’s decision. “You can’t pay for subway lines with fairy dust.”

On Sept. 23, the federal government agreed to give $660 million to help build the city’s planned subway extension from Kennedy to Sheppard Avenue.

The Ontario government, which has said the actual cost needed for this project is $3 billion, announced funding for a Scarborough subway extension along a different route on Sept. 4.

“The city has to cover the cost of the subways and province will have to put up the most money,” McKay said. “Municipalities look to the province, the province looks to the feds, the feds looks to municipalities and municipalities look to the province again.

“It goes around in one big circle eventually landing in the lap of the province.”

In 2012, the city implemented a 2.5 per cent property tax hike for residents, a 0.83 per cent increase for businesses and a 10-cent fair increase for TTC commuters.