The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which represents about 1,000 new-auto dealers in Ontario, says it prefers the province use existing gas taxes rather than implement toll roads as a way of “promoting the value of vehicle ownership."
The support comes after Premier Kathleen Wynne said she will disallow the City of Toronto to charge tolls on two of the city’s major expressways and instead increase the share of money municipalities receive from taxes the province collects at the pump.
Toronto Mayor John Tory had planned to charge drivers somewhere between $2 and $5.20 per trip on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway; his plan was expected to generate between $160 million and $300 million per year for the city.
Wynne said Jan. 27 she would block that proposal. Instead of allowing municipal tolls to pay for things like public transit, the province will gradually double the share of gas tax municipalities receives to four cents per litre by 2021-2022, Wynne said.
No new cost to drivers
The change does not include an increase in taxes paid at the pumps in order to offset the increase municipalities will get, and shouldn’t cost drivers more money than they’re already paying when they fill up, she said. Ontario charges 14.7-cent provincial road tax and HST on every litre of gas.
Because there will be no increase at the pumps, the TADA supports municipalities getting a bigger share of the tax revenue more than new toll roads as a way to pay for things like municipal road repair and public transit improvements.
“Using existing provincial funds through gas taxes collected at the pumps is a much better way to fund transit which stops unnecessarily pitting drivers against transit users,” TADA Director of Government Relations Frank Notte said in a statement.
Trillium estimates that Ontario drivers pay $10 billion in provincial taxes and fees for their vehicles every year and that tolls would be nothing more than a cash grab on something many view as a necessity.
Vehicle owners in Ontario already pay for things like a vehicle permit ($20), plates ($45), yearly plate stickers ($60 in northern Ontario and $120 in southern Ontario) and biannual emissions tests ($30). And a Nanos Research survey found 83 per cent of Ontarians feel that having a car is essential in a household while another nine per cent believe it is somewhat essential.
Necessity for most
"Support for the auto sector must include promoting the value of vehicle ownership,” Notte said. “The family car is a necessity for the overwhelming majority of Ontario families and governments should lessen the cost of vehicle ownership to make every day life more affordable.”
The denial of toll roads is the second major victory for the TADA in the last few months. In November 2016, the Province confirmed to Automotive News Canada that it will finally eliminate the initial $30 Drive Clean emissions test fee in April 2017, nearly 14 months after it first announced it would kill the fee.
The Drive Clean test determines if a vehicle meets Ontario emissions standards. If it doesn’t, a vehicle owner must make necessary repairs before the vehicle is allowed on the road.
The association viewed the fee, which has generated $5 million for the provincial government, as just another tax on car buyers.
Also in April 2017, auto dealers in Ontario will no longer be required to subject pre-owned and demo cars they sell to a Drive Clean emissions test.
The TADA will now turn its efforts to lobbying the provincial government to pass Bill 3, The Cutting Red Tape for Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, which, if passed, it would allow dealers to do any of the following by electronic means:
- Apply for a permit, number plates or a validation for a vehicle
- Apply for a new permit for a vehicle
- Apply for a used vehicle information package.
The private member's bill, which the TADA says will save dealerships and new-car buyers time and money, hasn't yet come up for debate in Ontario Legislature.