How to fund infrastructure
Ottawa Citizen - Letters to the Editor
Your recent Editorial on infrastructure funding ("No to higher taxes ...", Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 23, 2017) is correct in identifying provincial programs that local property taxes help fund (social housing, long term care, education) which would be more appropriately funded through ability-to-pay taxes, such as income and sales taxes. Your conclusion is that moving these programs off the property tax base would help free-up funds to deal with the infrastructure deficit that municipalities in Ontario face. True, but how would our provincial government, already facing deficits and mounting debt, replace the lost revenue?
There is no escaping the fact that, in order to reduce the infrastructure deficit we face in Ontario, funds must come from someplace. While almost everybody uses water and sewer services (funded in large part by water fees and sewer surcharges), our roads are a different matter. The major users here are cars and trucks. Some 84% of households in Ottawa have cars; most truck usage comes from commercial vehicles. Surely it makes sense to have a road user fee to help defray the cost of this infrastructure, through such means as license registration fees, higher gas taxes, etc.
Our public policy leaders need to engage its taxpayers in a full and frank discussion of how the infrastructure we rely on to live and work should be paid for. Our current reliance on property taxes to do the bulk of the work has proven inadequate. The writing is on the wall.