With Toronto taking the prize for longest average commute time of any city on the planet – and “Transit City” – part of Toronto’s “Green Plan” – starting to reach a critical mass in terms of the number of Bike Lanes on our streets – a reactionary view of cycling infrastructure resonated with voters as part of a tax revolt that became known as ‘The War on the Car’.
Well, in this writers opinion, Rob Ford is right again, it is a war on the car. Either we change our transportation model or we die (radical climate change = world war). It’s just that Rob Ford is defending the old model – the death model.)
The roots of the war on the car go back to 2007 when Toronto City Councillors were in trouble: they had a deficit, but they couldn’t legally run a deficit; at the time the Personal Vehicle Tax (PVT) and the Land Transfer Tax (LTT) seemed like progressive taxes (one worked towards the Green Plan’s objective of reducing auto trips, and the second tried slow the housing boom and prevent an economic ‘hard landing’).
Both immediately became symbols of a city management out of touch with every day peoples concerns.
It’s hard to see the political landscape evolving while it’s happening – it’s the forest for the trees thing. I didn’t understand what was going on in the spring and summer of 2010, when the polls were showing Ford with a huge lead – I figured the polls must be wrong, an error, I thought, the next poll would sort it out.
One day in early October I was talking to a Ford supporter and the words, ‘..so it’s a tax revolt.’ blurted out of my face. The Fordite said, ‘Yes!’ – like it was obvious. Now it seems obvious, but not then.
Former Budget Chief Shelley Carroll stood up at the December 16 2010 meeting of council and laid out her read on the revolution that just happened at City Hall. She says it wasn’t the tax – it was they way it was implemented.
I don’t think she understands what just happened.
Here’s Carroll’s speech…
Although I agree that explaining how taxes, services and infrastructure are connected is important, I don’t think that’s to be all and end all of what happened here.
Most people are one paycheck away from missing a mortgage payment, or not being able to pay their rent. Over the last 20 years most people have been borrowing to maintain their standing in the middle class. Falling further and further in debt to maintain an illusion of success for themselves and for their children – to continue to believe that the New World Order will continue to afford them The Rights of Man and of the Citizen: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Timing is everything, as they say – and when Council passed these two tax measures in October of 2007 the Financial Melt Down was just hitting in the form of the US subprime mortgage crisis. Since then, a number of factors have combined to increase the cost of living in Toronto considerably:
- Although the Federal Governments Consumer Price Index shows no change (the art of deception in economic indicators has reached a point where these statistics are irrelevant to the average citizen), I think the cost of my bag of groceries has risen by about 10%.
- The Province’s new Green Energy plan has increased electricity prices by about 10% (Since buffered by the ‘Clean Energy Benefit’ – a 10% rebate on electricity bills for the next five years, announced by the Province in October).
- In early 2010 new garbage collection fees are announced, starting in 2011 a family of four (large bin) will pay $369.31/year. (On a $250,000 home that’s about a 10% increase in property tax.)
- The Personal Vehicle Tax ($60.00/car) and the Land Transfer Tax (average .75% on a $250,000 home).
This avalanche of new expenses that came after the Financial Catastrophe has pushed people to the brink of their ability to maintain a middle class myth – and they don’t like it. This is where we are, whether people choose to understand it specifically in these terms or not.
City Council Meeting – December 16, 2010 – Rogers TV:
Statistics Canada, The Consumer Price Index – December 2008 (pdf)
See Table 4.1 Food. (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/62-001-x/2008012/tablesectlist-listetableauxsect-eng.htm)
CBC.ca: “Ont. electricity rates to rise 46% over 5 years”
- But ratepayers get 10% rebate
City of Toronto Public Notice: Proposed 2011 Residential Solid Waste Rates.
New! Toronto City Council On-Demand Video Archive (still in the testing phase, as of this writing some 2005 council meetings are up):
Posted: December 25th, 2010
Author: michael holloway
Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »