Greater Sudbury council has adopted a budget for the next two years.
In Pickering, the proposed 3.9% increase will be lower than in Toronto, but citizens already pay more than in the Queen City, notes Mayor Kevin Ashe. People from Toronto who move here get a shock when they receive their property tax bill. He hopes that the next Ontario and federal budgets will include aid measures for municipalities.
The City of Toronto recently signed a new agreement with the province to ensure its financial sustainability. The metropolis is thus receiving almost $400 million from Ontario this year for its operating budget, and $3 billion in capital expenditure over 10 years. This agreement provides, among other things, for Queen’s Park to regain control of the Gardiner and Don Valley (DVP) highways, which cross the metropolis.
Other municipalities would like to be able to conclude similar agreements with the Ford government. This is the case of Burlington, whose municipal council unanimously agreed this week to ask the province for a comprehensive review of municipal finances in Ontario.
The city wants a new fiscal framework, notes Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who also chairs the caucus of mayors of large cities in Ontario. We simply cannot continue to fund infrastructure and community services on the backs of property taxpayers. The property tax system was never designed to respond to the complexity of the problems that municipalities now face, she emphasizes.
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Olivia Chow and Doug Ford have agreed on a financial aid plan for Toronto.
< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Brian Rosborough notes that while the province takes over the Gardiner and DVP highways in Toronto, thousands of bridges and kilometers of roads across Ontario fall under the jurisdiction of municipalities, in some cases in very remote communities that have not the ability to pay.
That’s great for Toronto. They have big challenges, I have no doubt. But we also have big challenges: we were forced to merge almost 25 years ago, recalls the mayor of Greater Sudbury. His city notably found itself paying for the maintenance of roads that were previously under provincial control. The savings expected at the time never materialized. I think it was the province that won in this merger, in terms of costs.
Paul Lefebvre believes that there would be inconsistencies to correct: Greater Sudbury, although one of the largest cities in the country in terms of area, does not have access to certain provincial funds reserved for regional municipalities, which have a different status (at two levels of government).
The Ontario Ministry of Finance, for its part, assures that it already finances many programs that benefit municipalities, and argues that the agreement reached between Toronto and Ontario reflects the unique challenges of the metropolis and the scale of its transportation and shelter networks.
With information from Lorenda Reddekopp
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