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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[URBAN NOTE] “Why Imposing Tolls on the Gardiner and DVP is a Terrible Idea”

Torontoist’s Tricia Wood takes issue with the idea of imposing road tolls on the Gardiner and the DVP, arguing it would be an unfair tax and that it would not necessarily encourage people to shift to transit.

Road tolls are unfair. Several people have raised the good point that more wealthy citizens drive—but if we manage to tax the wealthy more than the poor with a road toll, it’s by luck or by accident, not by design. Lots of low-income people drive, too.

Correlations aside, road tolls tax usage, not wealth. If we’re taxing an essential service necessary for well-being, which everyone should be able to access regardless of wealth, and if indeed that essential service—mobility—is key to the acquisition and maintenance of wealth, then it should not be taxed based on usage.

A tax or fee on an essential service that is not based on ability to pay is regressive. Period. Mobility is essential in a city. Revenue for the operating and capital costs of transportation infrastructure should come from taxes on wealth.

Keep saying “$2” instead of “$1,000” and you hide the impact of this tax grab. Call it a user fee if you want, I don’t care. For those who have no choice, it doesn’t matter what it’s called.

Those who need to drop off children at daycare or school, get groceries on the way home, or work non-negotiable hours often have no choice but to drive.

A $2 toll is the same as adding a 40-cent gas tax—per litre—for someone who fills their tank each week. Imagine the province telling us they’re raising the price of gas from $1.10 to $1.50/litre. Would city council respond, “Well, rich people drive more”?

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Written by Randy McDonald

December 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

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