Councillor Frances Nunziata wants Toronto to hit the jackpot — with its own lottery.
“With a Toronto lottery, people would know that if they purchased a ticket the proceeds would go towards transit, housing and day care,” Nunziata said.
She’s introducing a motion on council to ask the province to allow the city to hold a lottery under the City of Toronto Act.
In 2005, city council passed a similar motion during the budget process to allow the city to have a lottery. But a lottery was not formally requested from the province.
With the province recently shutting down Toronto’s proposal for road tolls to generate revenue, Nunziata said now would be a time to revisit the idea.
Lottery would generate money for services
“I thought why don’t we ask for the lottery?” she said. “Maybe the timing is right now to ask for that because under the City of Toronto Act we can request it.”
A weekly one-dollar ticket could give Torontonians a chance to win a couple hundred thousand dollars.
Nunziata said it could generate millions of dollars a year, which the city badly needs.
Independent researcher Parastou Saberi, who has a PhD in environmental studies, says Toronto’s economic pressures started with the amalgamation of the city, with the province downloading responsibility to the city without adequate financial support.
“The city has lost its power to have a progressive system of taxation…starting from the [Mike] Harris government, who cut income taxes, and later [Dalton] McGuinty and currently [Kathleen] Wynne have also been following the same strategy,” Saberi said. “In reality, the burden of taxation is on the (lower) middle class.”
Despite the province’s tight lock on city efforts to raise revenue, Nunziata remains optimistic. She said she’s received positive feedback for providing not only a creative way to increase revenues, but an opportunity for the city to make money without a direct tax.
“Not everyone is paying for it,” she said. “You’re giving them the option of whether they want to pay or not.”
A lottery would help Toronto to find financial independence, Nunziata said.
“Either the province steps up and starts paying for these services 100 per cent or (it should) allow us to generate our own revenue.”
It’ll then be up to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Nunziata said,
“We have to make a formal request and let her publicly say no to us.”