News   Feb 23, 2024
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Downtown congestion pricing system

Of course Toronto has the ability to tax parking spots, every city in the country does.

The city sets municipal tax rates so all they have to do is add the tax per vehicle spot onto their yearly city tax bill. It does not require a sales tax in the slightest. Needless to say, all parking providers will pass the tax onto their consumers. This is absolutely no different than cities having different tax rates for industrial, residential, and commercial uses.

People will naturally start to drive less as the tax levels increase and correspondingly, their transit fares fall. Such a system has the benefit of encouraging infill, is far more equitable as it shares the pain city-wide as opposed to a small downtown section, and could be set up tomorrow.
 
Of course Toronto has the ability to tax parking spots, every city in the country does.

The city sets municipal tax rates so all they have to do is add the tax per vehicle spot onto their yearly city tax bill. It does not require a sales tax in the slightest. Needless to say, all parking providers will pass the tax onto their consumers. This is absolutely no different than cities having different tax rates for industrial, residential, and commercial uses.

People will naturally start to drive less as the tax levels increase and correspondingly, their transit fares fall. Such a system has the benefit of encouraging infill, is far more equitable as it shares the pain city-wide as opposed to a small downtown section, and could be set up tomorrow.
Taxing parking won't actually help congestion, in fact it might worsen it. For example, more folks dropping off and picking up will simply circle around the block instead of paying for parking.
 
Needless to say, all parking providers will pass the tax onto their consumers.
I don't think this is obvious. Why would they raise rates beyond what they are charging now? Why aren't they already charging those rates?
 
Taxing parking won't actually help congestion, in fact it might worsen it. For example, more folks dropping off and picking up will simply circle around the block instead of paying for parking.
While I'm sure this will happen, I think you'd have more people taking transit in.
 
Charging empty parking spaces will be a problem, as many of those were mandated (a building has to be built with a minimum number of parking spaces, as a way to reduce on-street parking). The owners can probably sue the city if it begins taxing them on parking spaces they didn't want to have in the first place.

It's far better to add a city tax portion on the parking fees, so it only becomes due when someone actually uses the parking space.
 
^^^^^ Conversely, reducing/eliminating parking requirements while adding taxes onto the property tax bill for every parking spot would allow developers to sell some of their parking land for infill projects. It would allow the developers/businesses to sell that parking land for a king's ransom and get rid of the expense of maintaining parking spots that they don't need nor want.

This is what London is doing. It just revamped all of it's parking laws and now any developments {whether commercial or industrial} along main transit corridors or transit villages no longer have ANY parking minimums and parking minimums for other areas have been slashed 40% city-wide. It also allows for developers to now sell any {or all} of their parking along transit corridors to other parties for infill.
 
^^^^^ Conversely, reducing/eliminating parking requirements while adding taxes onto the property tax bill for every parking spot would allow developers to sell some of their parking land for infill projects. It would allow the developers/businesses to sell that parking land for a king's ransom and get rid of the expense of maintaining parking spots that they don't need nor want.

This is what London is doing. It just revamped all of it's parking laws and now any developments {whether commercial or industrial} along main transit corridors or transit villages no longer have ANY parking minimums and parking minimums for other areas have been slashed 40% city-wide. It also allows for developers to now sell any {or all} of their parking along transit corridors to other parties for infill.
The city probably doesn't have the legal authority to force it though, in other words even if it were passed through city council the courts would block it.
@Rainforest is probably right that those owners who were forced to include parking spaces have a strong legal argument against the proposal.

Of course the final decision will only be known if the city decides to spend a few tens of millions and many years litigating it.
 
There's absolutely nothing that says the city can't tax parking that was mandated to be built at the time. Saying it can't be done is like arguing that taxes can't be raised on your house because you agreed to a certain plan for your building permit.

At minimum the city should tax uncovered parking. That there are still open parking lots anywhere in the 416 is pretty ridiculous. And forcing the construction of buildings on top of lots, gets down parking demands quickly.

Also, it's really hard to argue for a congestion charge when the city still has ridiculous anti-density and anti-pedestian design guidelines like yellow belt and setback rules. And when transit still takes far too long to access the core.
 
London is under QP control even more so than Toronto but it managed. Saying it can't be done is a cop-out for Toronto politicians and nothing more.
Municipal zoning is under the control of the cities and they can change those codes and in/decrease property taxes for different uses anytime they damn well please.

When Toronto brought in these parking minimums and forced businesses to have such large parking requirements and then decide to tax them more because of it, then, although I still think it would be legal, it would certainly be disingenuous at best and certainly a public relations disaster. If they brought in London's changes which allows developers to sell the extra land they don't want, then they are out nothing and probably have made a small fortune and will reduce their property taxes to boot.
 
A full scale congestion relief program could take years to implement. But consider how just the threat of a “downtown traffic fee” could cause drivers to switch to public transit.
Maybe a single mobile vehicle tolling setup that could be randomly moved daily between Gardiner DVP off ramps. Any “out of city” non-commercial plates get charged $10 per day.
 
A full scale congestion relief program could take years to implement. But consider how just the threat of a “downtown traffic fee” could cause drivers to switch to public transit.
Maybe a single mobile vehicle tolling setup that could be randomly moved daily between Gardiner DVP off ramps. Any “out of city” non-commercial plates get charged $10 per day.
Good way to get a smack down from Queen's Park.

Also, y'all seem to forget that there's just as many voters outside downtown as there inside downtown, in the 416. You want another Fordesque mayor?
 
There's absolutely nothing that says the city can't tax parking that was mandated to be built at the time. Saying it can't be done is like arguing that taxes can't be raised on your house because you agreed to a certain plan for your building permit.

At minimum the city should tax uncovered parking. That there are still open parking lots anywhere in the 416 is pretty ridiculous. And forcing the construction of buildings on top of lots, gets down parking demands quickly.

Also, it's really hard to argue for a congestion charge when the city still has ridiculous anti-density and anti-pedestian design guidelines like yellow belt and setback rules. And when transit still takes far too long to access the core.
The records of the judgements of the Courts of Ontario are publicly available. No one has to take my word for it. In very few cases of any kind does the court express agreement that the government has the authority to punish, after the fact, an activity or decision they mandated in the first place.
 
Changing tax rates is "punishment"? Since when?
Since it's already been discussed that singling out parking spaces will likely require more complex procedures and legal basis then a simple hike in property tax rates, I won't rewrite it here.
 

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