Toronto 2018 budget: council approves spending plan but nixes vehicle tax proposals
Councillors' last-minute calls to reinstate vehicle registration tax fail
Toronto city council approved its 2018 budget on Monday night, with last-minute calls to reinstate the vehicle tax being shut down.
The budget, hailed as "just right" by Mayor John Tory and "good news" by Budget Chief Gary Crawford, passed 35-7.
The budget keeps service levels the same — although some councillors argue that amounts to a cut as Toronto's population grows — while also providing funding for new shelter spaces as well as perks like two-hour transfers on the TTC.
Meanwhile, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam tabled a motion calling on city staff to do everything they can to open 1,000 new shelter beds in 2018, something homeless activists have spent months calling for. That motion carried 34-8.
This will be the final budget passed by this version of city council and it's also one Tory plans to run for re-election on. While the outcome seemed clear from the moment councillors arrived in the chamber, the debate was punctuated by several ideas rarely talked about at city hall, including reinstating the vehicle registration tax.
Here are a few of the motions that hit council floor, broken down by what passed and what failed.
- Coun. Mary Fragedakis's motion to add $2 million to the budget to help ease overcrowding on the TTC passed 36-6. Earlier Monday, Tory announced a 10-point plan to tackle some of these issues.
- Coun. Josh Matlow's motion recommending the city ask the province for a share of the Harmonized Sales Tax passed 38-4.
- Coun. Paula Fletcher's plan to ask Queen's Park to pay 50 per cent of the TTC's operating budget was approved 41-1.
- Coun. Janet Davis's motion to shuffle child-care funding around to create 140 new fee subsidies was approved 33-9.
- Coun. Joe Mihevc's motion to spend about $154,000 to teach more Grade 4 students how to swim was OK'd, 35-7.
- Coun. Stephen Holyday's motion to study how the city can reduce its reliance on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax also won support.
- Coun. Lucy Troisi's motion to spend $350,000 to add more parks staff passed.
- Coun. Sarah Doucette's call to bring back the vehicle registration tax to pay for transit and road improvements failed 13-29.
- Wong-Tam also tried to bring back the vehicle tax to pay for transit improvements, but that failed by a similar margin.
- Matlow's motion to ask the province to grant the city the power to create its own sales tax failed 19-23.
- Holyday's motion to increase TTC fares to pay for the two-hour transfer lost 6-36.
- Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti's instantly-doomed mega-motion calling for everything from Metrolinx taking over the TTC, to cancelling the plans for Rail Deck Park to eliminating all of the poverty reduction strategy failed.