NEWS

Report to recommend gas tax to pay for transit

12/12/2013 10:01 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST
A report on transit funding options set for release this morning is expected to call for a gas tax as one of the recommended revenue tools.

The recommendations are from a 13-member provincial advisory panel headed by Ryerson University’s Anne Golden. The panel was tasked with ways to raise $2 billion a year.

Ontario currently imposes a 14.7-cent-per-litre levy on unleaded gasoline, which hasn't changed in more than 20 years.

The report, which will be released later today, will also recommend a dedicated trust fund so drivers know the extra tax they are paying can be used only for public transit improvements.

Unlike a Metrolinx report released in May, the panel will not ask for an increase in the HST. Road tolls, congestion pricing and parking taxes won't be a part of the recommendations either.

Instead, corporate taxes will be relied upon as well as collecting funds from developers who benefit from increased values for properties built around transit sites.

Golden appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday and said the report makes clear that every nickel raised by the new revenue tools must be spent on entirely on transit.  

"We're saying dedicate it or forget it," Golden told host Matt Galloway.

The panel will also suggest the province use the extra money raised as leverage to borrow more, increasing the pot for transit expansion.

'A balanced approach'

Golden conceded the report calls on commuters, particularly drivers, to pay more to get around.

"The benefits of building the network we need far outweighs what we're asking people to continue," she said. "We looked at a lot of the revenue tools. It's a fair and balanced approached that asks for a little from all stakeholders.

"It's a call to action and a warning that failing to act has consequences too."

The panel will present its recommendations to Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen's Park.

It's then up to the government to decide which revenue tools, if any, to implement.

Studies have shown that people in the Toronto-Hamilton area spend more than an hour a day commuting, and predict that will jump to 109 minutes a day by 2031 if nothing is done.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has estimated that traffic congestion costs the region $6 billion a year in productivity.

MORE:cbcNews