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Some things that are happening on the transit front in this city:

Do you believe the TTC needs more money to operate and expand? Willing to put your money where your mouth is? Then call your councillor and lend your support to the TTC Tax. Toronto Budget Chief David Shiner (generally the exact opposite of a “tax-and-spend Liberal”) suggests a 3% surcharge to the property tax levy to raise $84 million per year. Matched by provincial and federal funds, and assuming that the rest of the TTC’s network is maintained in a state of good repair, this tax could open the Sheppard subway to the Scarborough Town Centre in eight years, and the Spadina subway to York University in twelve years.

The City of Toronto is prevented, by provincial edict, from raising taxes on commercial properties. The 3% levy works only if it is applied across the whole tax base. The idea is to put this tax to a city-wide referendum this November. If voters approve (and polls suggest that most Torontonians are willing to raise their taxes by as much as $20 per month to pay for the TTC’s maintenance and expansion), the provincial government would be hard pressed to deny the will of the people…

The TTC is also seeking to be exempted from the GST. The argument is simple: it is unconstitutional for federal and provincial governments to levy taxes on each other. Cities are creatures of the province, and the TTC is a creature of the City of Toronto. Charging the TTC GST on such purchases as buses and streetcars is therefore unconstitutional. Cities themselves are allowed a 56% rebate on their GST charges, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities argues that this should be made into a full exemption.

This matter will be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on April 22. The TTC is asking for the exemption to be retroactive to June 2002, when they filed the court application. If successful, the TTC could save as much as $12 million per year. Since 1991, the TTC has paid the Federal government over $130 million in GST.