I recently had the opportunity to speak to City Council's Executive Committee about a potential new revenue tool for the city: a levy on commercial parking lots. This would allow us to charge owners of commercial parking lots a small fee for each spot that would add up to potentially $500 million for our city and help to fund more of the infrastructure and services that we all need, enjoy, and that make our city great.
"...The one [revenue tool] in particular that I would like to draw your attention to is the commercial parking levy. This is a tool that is in the city's control. It's something that you could move forward with quickly that would get nearly $500 million a year. That goes a long way to addressing the $1.5 billion shortfall [in the city budget]. It would avoid us needing to slash services more, leaving people waiting for the bus, or sleeping on the street.
"And I just want to put in context that $500 million: it represents so much money that could go towards services. For example, if we were to put that on the property tax base, on homeowners, on renters who pay property tax through through their rent, my rough math suggests that it could be something like an extra $600 a year to try and hit that $500 million. That is an extraordinary burden to put on them. If you take a think about TTC fares: earlier this year, you had to raise transit fares by 10 cents. TTC projected that would be about $16 million. You'd have to do that 30 more times to get to your $500 million. It's totally unfair for homeowners, for renters, for people taking transit to put that burden on them.
"The parking levy is a much more fair way forward. It's about $1.50 a day at the most. That's cents for each person who ends up using the spot, and it ends up being, again, close to $500 million. By taking that money, if we were to invest it in transit, for example, we would be seeing far more people having the choice to leave the car behind for some of their trips. And I think we all know that an affordable and reliable transit system, that's a win for everybody. Every single person that gets onto the TTC is one fewer car on the road. And the last thing we need in Scarborough is more people having to drive to get to where they're going.