"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday 16 October 2015


This morning  Mayor Dawe on Facebook recommends  two articles on Toronto taxation by Edward Keenan, a writer for The Toronto Star.

Keenan attempts to explain factors causing increases and in some cases decreases in residential taxes. Also, how different rates are applied to different property classes. 

He understands it's a complicated formula making explanation difficult...The case is seriously 

Missing is half a century of Ontario property tax history; Also Toronto and Boroughs and all the creative energy to correct the mess created by the Province in the first place. 

The Provincial edict on market value assessment was the tool intended equalize tax between classes of property,  to measure comparative assessment wealth between municipalities so as  to allow for valid levels of provincial assistanc.

At the same time Regional units were created around Toronto to make city government manageable.

The purpose was well-founded and overdue.

 For a variety of reasons, the  plan went seriously  awry. 

 It had  a fatal flaw.
The shift to market value assessment was mandatory everywhere except Toronto.  
Mayor David Crombie and his Council were permitted to opt out. 

Toronto has been the tail that wagged the dog since the days of the Family Compact. 

Not for nothing was there a Rebellion.

Assessment in newly developing suburbs was up-to-date. Assessments of old established neighbourhoods of  million dollar mansions within old Toronto was decades out-of-date. 
Taxes billed were lower there than ticky -tacky boxes in the burbs. . 

The injustice generated profound resentment among elected representatives.Toronto media paid no mind. 

David  Crombie, Toronto's tiny,perfect,Mayor, hero of the media, steadfastly refused to adopt the new measurement for assessment.He was not about to shoulder the responsibility on behalf of provincial politicos. 

Provincial failure to impose, negated the possibility of original intent, to bring uniformity to property 
taxation to be fair and equal to all residents of Ontario.

City Amalgamation in 1998   initiated  a variety of methods to stave off inevitable political reckoning;  slow and measured and designed to calm the rich, fool the rest and achieve the original objective
so slowly as to be barely noticeable. 

Provincial edict to cushion the impact of catch-up with the rest of the Province, compelled Regions surrounding Toronto to shoulder among them the city's costs for social programs including housing, for several years at an annually reducing rate. 

At the same time, the Province took responsibility for a greater share of education cost. Increases in education costs  have been absorbed by the Province ever since.

It was the end of municipal autonomy in education and at the same time, cost control and accountability.

The Toronto Act provided authority to collect different taxes.The land transfer tax wasn't the most controversial. Vehicle registration tax was utterly ridiculous.The Ford administration repealed it despite falling sky prediction by city officials.

In a coconut shell, principles were sacrificed to the Great God Pan. 

Tax rules are so hopelessly intertwined, new generations of Councillors and media have difficulty making sense of it let alone explain it.

Mr. Keenan is no exception. He acknowledges the complications. He does not suspect how best 
Intentions could go so terribly wrong.

It's the missing link in his explanation. 

Toronto has been in the throes of re-development for forty years.Old abandoned factory buildings converted to lofts ...or demolished and replaced with billion dollar condo towers....neighbourhoods gentrified ...or replaced with high density towers.... Sports stadiums....Conference centers..., hotels...the Island Airport ....all  produce new and additional  assessment  revenue .

As well, new opportunity presents for cost-sharing  with private developers for infrastructure repairs and replacement.  

When a  tax increase is struck , increased spending over and above new revenue over the year before is obscured. Not only  are additional earnings absorbed ,the additional filch from property-owners pockets is surreptitious.

Spending increases are far higher than reflected by the increase in taxation. 

Exorbitant  increases  in water rates, sewage treatment and storm sewer, as much an increase in 
taxes, are not included. The overall increase  is visually  deflated.

Despite ballyhoo about openness and transparency, it's not even clever but  Councillors continue to allow themselves to be bamboozled.

Toronto's Mayor John Tory with all his years in the Provincial back rooms must certainly  have a better sense than most. If he truly intends to make a difference for the people of Toronto, and I believe he may, he has all the resources at hand to do the digging and at least understand the roots of city problems. They are many. Toronto is a city-state.
A municipal politician has his/her ear closer to the ground, the advantage of an intimate audience.Is not required to adhere to political party discipline and has something real to gain from collective energy.

People hear when they listen. 

Toronto could be the shining city on the hill .The  rest of us could continue to enjoy the best of both. 


Council has approved a tin-can facsimile of a Second World War vehicle to be planted at the  Aurora Cenotaph. Hardly a respectful way to honor the sacrifice of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Build a concrete slab and stick up a memento of the conflagration in the space set aside in their memory. 

So don't let them rest in peace.

Any nut with nothing between his ears can walk in off the street and whatever crazy idea he proposes gets the nod. 


Anonymous said...

That Cenotaph plan made me ill.

Anonymous said...

There will be no decrease in residential tax in Aurora. The Mayor is on record from early in his first term stating that
not collecting a certain amount of taxes might not be a good thing and had not worked for those who had tried it. The examples
he offered were of places who had done just fine after their brief respite for appreciative residents.

Anonymous said...

Every time a tax of any sort is amended there are literally thousands of little bells that are set to ring, and ring they do.

I have discussed this result with some very experienced income tax and property tax lawyers over many years.

The consistent solution is to completely scrap the existing legislation and write clear, concise and simple replacements.

That would probably put numerous accountants and lawyers onto the dole. How about infrastructure as a legitimate occupation?