North Bay wants ability to collect municipal land transfer tax only allowed in Toronto

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Municipalities outside Toronto need more revenue tools to address a growing infrastructure deficit that now tops $6 billion across the province, a North Bay councillor says.

Councillor Mac Bain’s motion requesting that the Premier grant municipalities the same powers the City of Toronto has to impose and collect a Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) will be debated by the planning committee.

Supporters want all Ontario municipalities to have the same options for raising money and that includes a municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) that only Toronto has been approved to use since 2006.

“Municipalities can no longer generate and address that deficit through property tax alone,” he said, adding North Bay and other cities can’t generate enough to address the infrastructure deficit without new revenue tools.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) estimates the province-wide municipal infrastructure deficit to be $6 billion dollars.

In 2020 Toronto collected $800 million from the Municipal Land Transfer Tax; this offset represents 15 per cent of their annual revenue.

It is estimated if allowed in all towns, cities and townships, the MLTT would generate nearly $2.7 billion dollars for the other Ontario municipalities, which would help relieve growing infrastructure deficit.

“One of the challenges we all have discussed is how to fund our growing infrastructure deficit,” Bain said at a recent council meeting. “A different government in 2006 gave Toronto different revenue tools and they use those revenue tools to keep property taxes low while addressing some of their infrastructure deficit.

“I don’t think it’s fair that one municipality has these revenue tools . . . and the balance of the municipalities in the province don’t have the right to decide if they want to use those tools.”

Revenue from the MLTT could generate about $2.7 billion.

“Municipalities can no longer address that deficit through property taxes alone. We can’t generate enough to address North Bay’s infrastructure deficit just by growing the city. We need new and other revenue tools.

I would like municipalities across the province to have all the same revenue tools as the City of Toronto,” Bain said.

If the province granted these tools to all the other municipalities, each council would have to pass a resolution in open council, with complete discussion publicly.

“I don’t know if this council would pass a land transfer tax, but it would be great to have the option,” Bain said.

Another option, if Ontario refuses to allow widespread use of MLTTs, would be for the province to share the provincial land transfer tax with the 443 municipalities outside Toronto.

Councillor Bill Vrebosch says he remembers hearing the 2006 decision and thinking granting Toronto special abilities was unfair.

“This is a way of equalization across the province. It gives us equal tools and I think that’s only fair.”

Other councillors agreed that the issue is equity and all municipalities across Ontario should have identical toolboxes when it comes to raising money.

“Where I struggle is that Toronto has the biggest ability to gain revenue from population and growth and then you have Northern Ontario that has to beg for the same equality as Toronto,” said Deputy Mayor Tayna Vrebosch.  “I think this is a long time coming.”

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