Op-Eds

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Friday that she will not allow the City of Toronto to proceed with road tolls. I’ll leave the politics of this decision to others, but the economic consequences of the decision will be more congestion and myriad problems for cities reliant on unsustainable provincial grants. How did we get here? About a decade ago, the province granted the City of Toronto – and only Toronto – the power to levy tolls on roads it operates, among other new tax powers. There was a catch, however: The province retained the final say by having to pass a regulation allowing such a road toll. In December, Toronto City Council voted in favour of asking the province to allow Toronto to place tolls on...
Putting a toll on Toronto’s expressways may be the biggest policy idea of the year – perhaps the decade – in Toronto. If the city approves the plan and gets the design of the toll right, it will mean lower property taxes and reduced traffic congestion. Mayor John Tory announced on Thursday he will support the introduction of tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, the two major expressways into the downtown core. It is now up to City Council to decide whether to support him. Here is why they should. The toll will not be double taxation. Far from it. Gas taxes, vehicle licences and other revenues from drivers have covered less than 70 per cent of roadway expenses across Canada since 2008. Residents...
News broke last week that the federal government is considering privatizing its major airports to raise money for infrastructure projects. That would be good news for Canadians, and in more ways than one. Private airports, which are becoming commonplace around the world, tend to be less costly and more innovative, often looking like shopping malls. The federal government should follow international practice and sell its major airports. Many Canadians know first-hand that air travel in Canada is expensive. According to the World Economic Forum, Canada has the ninth-highest ticket taxes and airport charges in the world. We rank between the tourism hotspots of Sri Lanka and Ghana. As a report last week in the Toronto Star suggests, the...
From the Finance Minister to the Bank of Canada to Canada’s big-bank executives, everyone is talking about surging house prices in Vancouver and Toronto. What can federal policy makers do about it? Unfortunately, not much – because the core problem is a lack of low-cost, single-family homes in those cities, driven in part by local and provincial government policies. What are the facts? Nationally, house prices have increased by 67 per cent since 1990 and by 19 per cent since 2006. However, interest rates have decreased during this period. The conventional five-year mortgage rate fell from nearly 13 per cent in 1990 to 7 per cent in 2006 and is now below 4 per cent. This has left the average consumer with higher...
The Ontario government announced recently that it will give cities the power to require home builders to set aside housing in new developments for low-income families. Municipal politicians might like the plan, but it will be costly for home buyers and is not the most effective way to give low-income families good housing. The province’s plan is called inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is about changing the way social housing is built in our cities. Currently, the City of Toronto owns 62 per cent of government-subsidized housing. Inclusionary zoning would put more of the burden of building low-income housing on private developers instead. Why do governments support such a change? First, cities can...