It should come as no surprise that four years of Rob Ford respecting taxpayers left Toronto in dire need of cash. The city has a massive repair backlog and a slew of unfunded infrastructure projects, including Ford’s legacy: a tiny subway extension in Scarborough with a cost eclipsing $3 billion. As much as Ford Nation wants to believe all budgetary shortfalls could be overcome with a combination of internal efficiencies, private partnerships, and shouting, more money will need to come from somewhere, and soon.
A report commissioned by the city recommends five new taxes to solve the problem. Actually, that’s four new taxes and one we already had – the vehicle registration tax – but repealed due to “war on the car” yadda yadda yadda. Along with bringing the vehicle registration tax back, the report also suggests a congestion tax for driving downtown, an alcohol tax because those fancy emulsified cocktails you’re drinking at a bar on Ossington aren’t expensive enough already, a parking tax because two vehicle-related taxes weren’t enough, and an amusement tax which I can only assume would be similar to Ticketmaster charging me an extra $5 on a $20 ticket.
But these tax ideas are boring and generic. They lack Toronto’s elusive personality and none of them hint at what makes this city such a unique place to call home. Instead, city hall should consider adopting new taxes that play to the city’s true strengths. Taxes like these:
Transit etiquette tax
Enforcing the unwritten rules of Toronto public transit will provide a steady source of revenue. TTC fare inspectors will note any passengers who make eye-contact with or attempt to speak to other passengers and bill them accordingly. Conversely, passengers who avoid all eye-contact during their journey will be eligible for a rebate.
Contrary to what the Toronto Raptors would have you believe, there is such a thing as too much Drizzy. This tax will apply to: adding Drake to the playlist of any bar, restaurant, or Jewish community centre; listening to Drake within earshot of six (6) or more people; and sharing Drake-based memes over Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
All residents and businesses will be charged an extra monthly fee for internet access, regardless of whether or not they have a connection or how slow and unreliable their connection is. All money collected will go to Rogers and Bell because they own all our sports teams so they kind of have us by the balls here.
Albino squirrel tax
If Toronto ever needed a mascot, this little guy would be at the top of the list. People who frequent Trinity Bellwoods will be subject to a small fee to ensure the health and safety of everyone’s favourite anomalous rodent. Acorns will be the preferred form of payment.
There’s plenty to be gained by turning downtown Toronto’s underground network of food courts into a toll route for pedestrians. The only thing better than walking in circles underneath Brookfield Place for half an hour trying to find your way to Union Station is paying for the privilege.
Obvious consulting tax
Every time city staff want to commission a report by an external firm to tell them something they should already know, 100% the money budgeted for that report will instead go towards paying for things the city actually needs, like road repairs and competent city staff.
I will be forwarding my recommendations to mayor John Tory and the rest of city council once the accounting firm I’ve hired produces some unrealistically favourable revenue estimates for each of them.