Like other cities, Toronto faces challenges and opportunities on multiple fronts.
Canadian municipalities are heavily dependent on property tax revenues, which unlike income taxes, do not automatically rise with economic growth. Property tax revenues are the single largest source of revenue for Toronto, and constitute nearly half of own-source revenues. As other orders of government address deficits caused by the global recession, municipal governments face constrained or even reduced fiscal transfers, and further downloading of unfunded program responsibilities. The growing recognition of these challenges presents an opportunity to diversify Toronto’s revenue streams.
Also growing is recognition of the need and opportunity for municipal governments to address long-standing environmental challenges. Sprawl, waste management, traffic congestion, smog and the need to invest in transit are among many pressing issues for Toronto and other municipalities. Again, this growing recognition creates an opportunity for change.
However, in order to know what solutions might be effective, we first need to examine the causes.