We need to immediately shift all funds from the Ford Tax away from the Scarborough Subway and into local, non-subway rapid transit projects that will move more people more frequently, including right here in our neighbourhood. We can have guaranteed funding - about $50 million per year - for the next 3 decades, without any new taxes.
The Ford Tax
The Ford Tax is the 30-year, multi-billion dollar property tax hike implemented by Rob and Doug Ford. The Fords raised property taxes by 1.6% in order to help pay for the Scarborough Subway Extension. That project is now planned to be a single station that will likely cost about $5 Billion, will serve very few people and will increase commute times for most people in Scarborough.
Renters can be forgiven for not being familiar with the Ford Tax, as it’s part of property taxes. Owners might also be unfamiliar with the Ford Tax, because it’s hidden. To find it, simply look at the line that says CBF on your property tax bill. CBF means City Building Fund, which was named by Mayor John Tory when he added a new Tory Tax to the Ford Tax.
The Ford Tax raises just under $50 million per year.
Now Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford has promised that his government will:
- Upload responsibility for subway infrastructure, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines, from the City of Toronto to the Province.
- Add $5 billion in new subway funding to the $9 billion already available to build the Sheppard Loop with Scarborough, the Relief Line, and the Yonge Extension while building future Crosstown expansions underground.
- Keep responsibility for day-to-day operations, including labour relations, with the City of Toronto along with a guarantee that the City will continue to keep all revenue generated by the subway system. [Source]
Yes, Doug Ford has promised to have Ontario taxpayers fund Toronto’s entire, and future expanded, subway system. I disagree with giving up Toronto’s largest asset, one that we have spent decades planning, developing and investing our tax dollars into. Ford will try to privatize that asset and all the land our subways stations are on, sell them at an under-priced discount, and we will quickly see higher fares and lower quality service on our already crowded system. Further, we will lose a say into any decisions related to the subways and the land. Indeed, the main reason has reduced City Council to 25 seats is to make it easier for developers to have their way, which ties in to the selling of TTC land.
In addition to the construction of subways promised above, Ford has also said that he will build subways to Markham and Pickering. Based on the projected costs of building the the one-stop Scarborough Subway, Ford’s full subway expansion plans will cost $100 - $150 billion, and make it nearly impossible for Torontonians to find space to sit on subways that previously belonged to us. This is nightmare scenario for commute times in Toronto, and we should fight this every step of the way.
All of that said, Toronto will have little recourse. We have seen that Doug Ford will go to any length to get his way, no matter how poorly thought out or unpopular his ideas are. We need councillors that are politically smart and media-savvy, to defend our city, our people and to fight for our assets and lower commute times. Given Ford’s unfounded brand as a shrewd steward of taxpayers money, we will need to use that brand against him - speaking his language - to fight to maintain and improve the transit that we built.
Shifting the Ford Tax
As of now, we should be preparing a public relations campaign against Ford’s move to upload and then privatize our subway system. But we should also pressure him to keep some of his promises, specifically his promise to inject billions of dollars to fund the building of new subway lines. And Ford is indeed going to have Ontarian taxpayers foot the bill for new subways, then we need to immediately shift all funds from the Ford Tax away from the Scarborough Subway and into local, non-subway rapid transit projects that will move more people more frequently, including right here in our neighbourhood. We can have guaranteed funding - about $50 million per year - for the next 3 decades, without any new taxes.
Since Ford is going to pay for the subways, it is redundant for Toronto to use our tax dollars for the same purpose. Let's pressure Ford to keep his promise to take on the full cost for the Scarborough Subway Extension and Downtown Relief Line, and penalize him at the polls when he fails to deliver. In the meantime, Toronto should pull all funding intended for the Scarborough Subways and shift all Ford Tax funds to more frequent rapid bus service and new rapid light rail.
Re-investment of the Ford Tax funds:
- Build a Downtown Relief Line Lite - Upgrade the 504 King Streetcar into Rapid Light Rail, down Broadview, along King and up Roncesvalles; it would increase the number of people going north and south on Broadview and back and fourth to downtown, and do so faster - the Ford Tax can fund 3 kilometres of new LRT each year; Ford will put the Relief Line at the bottom of the priority list (he got few votes in this part of the province), so we need a plan B - converting the 504 into an LRT will act as a lighter version of a relief valve for the Bloor-Danforth to downtown routes. When Ford is gone, we can get back to prioritizing the Downtown Relief Line;
Fund more frequent service of our Rapid Bus Transit and regular bus routes; with this increased funding, we can purchase more modern buses, space to store them and pay for increased frequency, including on Pape/Carlaw, Coxwell, O'Connor, Mortimer and Cosburn;
- If we are able to stop Ford from privatizing, or taking control of, the subway system, we can use the Ford Tax funds to replace the old trains on the Bloor-Danforth line with modern trains that enable automatic controls, which allow for greater frequency of trains during rush hour, and therefore quicker commutes and elimination of dangerous platform crowding.
Shifting the Ford Tax, how to spend that additional $50 million per year, and not having to implement new taxes to make those things happen, are examples of the kind of creative problem solving and fiscal responsibility I will bring I will bring to City Hall. See more of my priorities and ideas here.