Councillors admit tough call on hike in vehicle, land transfer fees

As opponents of Mayor David Miller’s proposed new taxes on home sales and motor vehicles gear up today for a protest blitz on Toronto City Hall, councillors on both sides of the issue agree next week’s vote will be close.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has asked members to swamp the city with phone calls, faxes and

e-mails this morning to protest the proposed taxes.


The federation’s Kevin Gaudet said there’s no real way to measure the success of the campaign, but, “It would be very successful if we could get altogether 5,000 contacts — phone calls, e-mails and faxes.”

City council meets Monday to consider two new taxes: A proposed land transfer tax on a sliding scale that would mean $4,244 in new taxes on the sale of the average $380,000 home; and a $60 vehicle registration fee. Together, they’d net the city $356 million a year.

Councillors on both sides of the issue say the vote will be tight. With 45 members on council, including the mayor, 23 votes are needed to win if everyone shows up.

“We can usually get 18 votes,” said right-wing councillor Case Ootes, who opposes the taxes.

“The challenge will be to get five or six votes who have the courage to stand up to the mayor. “

Newly elected Councillor Chin Lee (Ward 41, Scarborough-Rouge River) is unlikely to support the new taxes. He has been “bombarded” with calls from opponents. “I wasn’t elected to increase taxes by that much,” Lee said.

Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), a frequent opponent of Miller’s initiatives, said the count by his reckoning looks like 22 in favour and 20 opposed, with two unknowns. But he said four of the “yes” votes are “really soft” and could swing the other way. He wouldn’t name them.

Either way

  • Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone says the city needs the money, and if councillors don’t like the new taxes, they will have to raise funds through property taxes.