Taking a toll on Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is in the news again musing about the need to, at least, discuss the idea of toll roads across the region that will provide funding for a robust GTA-wide public transit system.
She hasn’t, however, come out in support of the idea.
The veteran politician is hedging her bets, saying tolls need to be looked at, because she well knows how unpopular such an idea would be to those that commute to and from her beloved city.
"I think we have to face the music, and that is that people are not going to be happy with tolling roads, but it's one way to pay for the needs in the Greater Toronto Area," the mayor was quoted in a Toronto paper today. “The property tax cannot handle it.”
How much of McCallion’s views are just words?
Consider the headline grabbing comments from a few years ago when she announced her Cities Now! campaign, meant to highlight the lack of infrastructure funding from Ottawa for Mississauga and other cash-strapped cities.
Back then, the headlines were about her dramatic idea for a 5 per cent infrastructure levy on top of a 3.9 per cent tax.
There was a need for long-term thinking, McCallion said.
Council, however, quickly retreated from the unpopular 5 per cent infrastructure levy that would have brought in at least $12.5 million a year, opting instead for a 1 per cent levy that brought in $2.5 million.
That 1 per cent levy hardly took care of the $75 million a year needed over the next 20 years to tackle an estimated "infrastructure deficit" of $1.5 billion.
But this year, citing tough economic times, even that 1 per cent levy quickly vanished, with McCallion leading the charge.
"I don't think it's the year" to impose the levy, McCallion told council."
She added that next year might not be appropriate, either.
What was important was the need to demonstrate council’s concern about helping people keep their homes.
Some believe the infrastructure levy that was supposed to be levied over a 20 period, a long-term plan to help secure the financial future of the city, is unlikely to come back.
It died a quiet death during the recession.
Despite all the talk about the need for a new long-term funding scheme, McCallion is only musing about the need for tolls for today.
The infrastructure levy, she believed in.
Look at where that is today.