By Heino Molls
My desk overlooks one of the busiest roads in Toronto. We are at the intersection of a small side street and that busy roadway. At the corner of this small street, there are signs that say it is prohibited to make turns to the major road from the small street during rush hours. This is to prevent traffic from flooding into my high-density neighbourhood during the rush hours. Thousands of cars will use this small street as a short cut.
The problem is these prohibited turns are rarely enforced and most rush hour drivers know that, so they make the illegal turns every day. Every now and again there is a community meeting where residents angrily tell police officials that they want these illegal turns enforced.
The police have only recently been honest about why they don’t enforce this intersection. They say that the cost of enforcement is too much. They would need two or three police cars with a crew of about six police officers to manage the traffic on the busy street while cars are pulled over and tickets are written. While this all goes on, a traffic jam on the major road is created, causing enormous stress on the flow of cars at rush hour. One day of enforcing prohibitive turns from our little street could end up costing the city over $100,000. They don’t have that money in the budget so the safety of an entire neighbourhood is put at risk due to money problems. This is not unique to the street in front of my window. It plays out all over my city and every city in Canada.
All of this could be solved by the installation of a traffic camera that can photograph the license plate of a car making the illegal turn and send a traffic violation notice and fine to the owner of the car. No police cars, no traffic jams and less rush hour danger to the neighbourhood. Everything is solved.
The problem is the money to buy and install that technology is not in the budget, even though it is readily available to the police. It could even be a money maker. The police have come to the politicians with hat in hand to ask for this technology for years but the politicians all say no because they are afraid of raising budgets and subsequently property taxes.
Property taxes are so sacred to politicians across Canada that they are terrified to raise them and dread the trouble even a small two per cent raise may cause them. Politicians could lose the next election because of property taxes, so they stand sanctimoniously and declare that property taxes will not rise on their watch. How foolish they are.
That self-centred attitude has caused havoc in our cities. Subways and transit systems have fallen decades behind in improvement. Road building and repair is not being done. Underground water systems are disintegrating because they are over 100 years old, and in one particular city thousands of tons of raw sewage were poured into a precious fresh waterway because new systems were never built. On it goes. Our cities and provinces are falling apart because politicians have not raised property taxes to help the people for decades.
Whether you like it or not, unless we get some honest politicians we are in for more trouble than we can imagine. Good management begins with raising property prices across the board by at least 10 per cent if not double that just to fix all the problems we have inherited from mismanagement in the last 60 years. If you don’t believe that, then you are as dumb as the politicians who run your city and province think you are.
It is shocking that politicians are grabbing money from the sale of houses through land transfer taxes and all kinds of other ridiculous home buying taxes instead of raising property taxes. We could have a great economy but our politicians are threatening it.
There are a lot of elements to our country’s economy. There is technology development, raw material management, the auto sector and even our controversial oil and gas development. But none of them compare to the importance of housing, specifically people buying houses.
In fact, all of them combined are not as important as an active housing market. Furniture manufacturing, carpentry, engineering, building design, construction trades, carpet manufacturing, roofing, waste management, anything and everything right down to driveway sealant are all related to home sales. If you are stupid enough to restrict people from buying homes, then you are cannot be trusted to run the government. Politicians, you must stop the land transfer taxes, new home taxes, GST/HST and all the other outrageous scams for money grabbing.
Raise property taxes you idiots, don’t stop people from buying houses.