“We have frankly screwed tenants.”
This was the oft-repeated quote from Toronto Councillor Gord Perks after the city announced its proposed property tax changes as part of the 2011 operating budget. Because of market changes, tenants were supposed to see their property taxes reduced by 3.08%. But, due to city tax policy, a portion of that tax break will go to commercial and industrial properties. In short, tenants will save $50 rather than $62. Twelve dollars can be a significant amount for low-income families living cheque-to-cheque, and Perks suggested that this proposal and others (hiking user fees at community centres, eliminating bus routes, slashing the budget of the Tenant Defence Fund) constitute the new administration’s attack on tenants.
While we at CERA strongly disagree with the decision to cripple the Tenant Defence Fund (and our friends at the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations), user fees and bus routes are budgetary footballs that get tossed around regardless of an administration’s political leanings. And the city tax policy that Perks bemoaned was actually formed during the era of his ally Mayor Miller, so it is a safe assumption that the Councillor was originally on board. To harangue it now seems like cheap political theatre.
Tenants do need loud, vocal support from city councilors. Let’s just hope it’s genuine.