So I get it now.
The reason why the leftists on council were so desperate to put up former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat against the incumbent John Tory in the October election — besides fighting for their political survival at City Hall — is not because she has a bold vision.
It’s because she plans to boldly tax us to death to pay for all their pet projects.
Her spokesperson provided this quote to me Thursday: “As chief city planner, I found solutions to problems that didn’t increase the burden on people, like getting developers to pay their fair share to invest in better planning to build a better city…we will be rolling out a full fiscal plan during the campaign.”
Hold on just a minute.
She’s has been on record in the past pushing a litany of revenue tools to fund her allegedly bold vision(s).
In fact, I’ve been around City Hall long enough to know — and have no trouble reminding voters instead of sugar-coating history — that in 2012 she spent months and months putting together a plan for 14 possible revenue generators (aka taxes and tolls) to fund transit.
By the way, Metrolinx and the provincial government under former Premier Kathleen Wynne were doing the same thing as Keesmaat at the same time, suggesting to me her work wasn’t really needed.
But I digress.
Keesmaat’s proposed “tools” included a sales tax, payroll tax, highway tolls, fuel tax, vehicle tax, parking levy, development charges, HOV lanes and a central area congestion levy.
At the time, she insisted the funding tools really needed to be “embraced.”
Then she took her “tools” (not to be confused with Metrolinx’s tools or the tools from the province’s $105,000 consultation panel) on a month-long $372,000 dog-and-pony show — public meetings and the like — which included the hiring of a public relations firm (mostly to promote herself, methinks) at a cost of $9,860.
She was even part of a transportation discussion panel in March of 2013, moderated by the alt-left host of CBC Metro Morning and her No. 1 fan, Matt Galloway.
Our Jen really likes it bold and flashy.
No matter. When Keesmaat’s “tools” came to council that spring — the preferred ones being development charges, a fuel tax, parking levy and sales tax — council voted them down.
However, rest assured the former chief planner and now mayor-wannabe made sure she let everyone know in late 2016 that she resoundingly supported Tory’s road tolls for the Gardiner Expresswayand DVP — not just because they would raise money for transit but they’d help reduce congestion created by the 40% of pesky motorists who commute on those roads from outside Toronto.
Of course, Wynne — sensing that could be political suicide for her in 2017 (she just had to wait for that until 2018) — refused to approve the Tory road tolls.
Tory campaign spokesman Keerthana Kamalavasan issued a statement Thursday calling on Keesmaat to “come clean” on her tax hike plan.
“When asked about her stance on bread-and-butter issues like taxes, she says she needs more time to think about it,” said Kamalavasan. “We know what she’s said in the past…Keesmaat needs to … tell the people of Toronto how much she is going to raise taxes in the city and how many new taxes she wants to put in place.”
You know I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she dusted off that April 2013 50-page report and turned it into her fiscal “plan.”
THE REVENUE TOOLS KEESMAAT-STYLE (taken from the April 2013 report):
- Fuel tax: 5-10 cents/litre (costing homeowners $3-$6 per fill-up)
- Sales tax: 0.5%-1% (costing $275-$550 per household per year)
- Commercial parking levy: $0.50-$1/space/day (annual impact depends on number of spaces)
- Development charges: 7.5%-15% increase (Varies depending on type of build)
- Highway tolls: 5-10 cents/km travelled (depends on number of highway km driven).
- HOT lanes: 15-30 cents/km (depends on HOT lane usage)
- Vehicle registration tax (eliminated by Rob Ford): $50-$100/renewal or registration (cost drivers $50-$100/vehicle per year)