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Quick Hits, Volume XXXVIII -- Mostly Sorbara and Toronto
25/06/2005

The signs are getting stronger that there will be subway expansion in Toronto. Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara is hinting more openly that he will pay to extend the University-Spadina line through York University and up into his 905 riding.

Although Toronto needs investment in the TTC, it seems that this investment is always politically driven. Although I will be happy to see it built, and while it was ranked among the top TTC options (link PDF), the York extension is probably not the optimal use of transit dollars. The Sorbara special will add four stations to the line, three of which will be in the middle of nowhere.

This interesting City report (link PDF) makes the point that the original subway lines in Toronto have been great stimulators of development, but the recent projects haven't had the same effect. This is illustrated with photos of, for example, the Yonge Street corridor vs. the fields of Downsview.


Meanwhile Greg Sorbara has said that he agrees that social services are a burden for GTA municipalities, but doesn't support uploading or a sharing of sales or income taxes. (So much for Jeffrey Simpson's plan for cities.)

The City of Toronto pays $500-million per year for welfare costs and the Globe and Mail quotes David Miller as saying, "[Mr. Sorbara] did say he understood that the income tax, not property taxes, should fund social services, so from my perspective that's a start," but there is no sign that the finance minister can connect the two.


Greg Sorbara also said he had no interest in changing the special education tax rate that Queen's Park charges Toronto businesses. That extra $120-million per year comes in handy.


I wrote about this inequitable tax a few days ago when commenting on a recent report discussing the competitiveness of Toronto businesses. A few days after that, John Barber at the Globe and Mail pointed out that despite the business community's claims of doom and gloom, Toronto vacancy rates are down and rents are heading up. Some big projects are being planned.


The Thomas Courchene paper on the New Deal for Cities that John Barber wrote about today is available here (link PDF). Read it after the weekend!


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