Watch above: Half of Torontonians will pay more for better transit – will politicians agree? Marianne Dimain reports.
TORONTO – Half of Torontonians are willing to pay more in taxes to get around faster, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll done exclusively for Global News.
So are mayoral candidates willing to raise taxes to make things run a little smoother in Toronto? Don’t bet on it.
Toronto is in the first phases of large investment in public transit. The tunnels are being dug along Eglinton Avenue for the $6.7 billion LRT and the city has committed to funding at least $900 million of the Bloor-Danforth extension into Scarborough.
But current mayoral candidates also have their own plans for transit: Doug Ford wants to build several more subways, John Tory wants to build above-ground rail along current GO Transit tracks and Olivia Chow wants to boost bus service while also beginning construction on the downtown relief line.
Ford’s campaign said he was too busy for an interview on this story Wednesday. But he announced Wednesday morning he wanted to cut the land transfer tax by 15 per cent. His brother, Mayor Rob Ford, campaigned on getting rid of the tax in 2010 but he was never able to convince city council to cut the much-maligned tax at all.
“This is an unfair tax. It hits people buying cheaper homes the hardest,” Ford told reporters following a meeting with members of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Wednesday morning.
“We slam average, everyday, hard-working residents with a tax on top of a tax. This has to stop.”
Tory’s campaign said the candidate wasn’t available for an interview on this story. However, Tory has gone on record for and against taxes. In 2013, according to a report in the Globe and Mail, he said “the notion that there’s free transit is crazy.”
But now, he’s promising to build his SmartTrack line with no tax increases at all. Instead, tax-increment financing – borrowing on future tax revenue – will fund the construction, he said.
Chow on the other hand said Wednesday that candidates “need to be honest with voters.”
“I do know that I’m the only candidate that is being honest with people that if we want better public services, like transit, we need to pay for it, we need to invest now,” Chow said. “The other two candidates, one’s promising heavy rail, the other’s promising subways and saying that you don’t need to pay a penny. I think they need to start being honest with people.”
She promised, if elected mayor, to hike the land transfer tax by one per cent on homes, worth more than $2 million, to pay for the city’s portion of the downtown relief line.
But when it comes to dealing with the city’s finances – most voters don’t think Chow is the best person for the job.
Fifty per cent of the 1,292 Torontonians surveyed by Ipsos Reid said Ford would do the best job dealing with “city taxes that are too high.” Thirty-two per cent thought Tory would be best.
Only 18 per cent thought Chow was the best choice to deal with the city’s taxes.
Chow suggested Ford’s winning on the tax issue because he continues to promise to “cut everything under the sun” regardless of potential consequences.
“But if you really think about it, that means our services are going to be cut,” she said. “People don’t want the service to be cut, we want better libraries, community centres, public transit, snow removal, garbage removal, TTC, you name it, we need better services to maintain a good quality of life.”
– With files from Alan Carter and Marianne Dimain
Ipsos surveyed 1,252 Torontonians on Global News’s behalf via an online panel between September 22 and 25. The survey is reliable within +/- 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The data, summaries and commentary in exclusive Global News / Ipsos Reid polling are subject to copyright. The data, summaries and commentary may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper attribution to both Global News and Ipsos Reid in all web articles, on social media, in radio broadcasts and with an on-screen credit for television.