The Regional Municipality of York wants the legal authority to charge its residents a vehicle registration fee, much to the chagrin of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association.
The municipality said in a statement the fee is needed “to continue on the path of strong financial sustainability.”
The region is forecasted to grow to 1.8 million residents over the next 25 years but says that despite those numbers, “it has similar revenue-raising powers as a smaller municipality.” It wants whichever party that forms government after the June 7 election to grant the municipality the power to raise revenue in a fashion similar to the City of Toronto Act. Canada’s largest city has the authority to charge fees beyond those charged by the province. It used to charge a $60 vehicle registration tax. Council killed that fee in 2011 under the late mayor Rob Ford. Experts said in 2016 that by reinstating the fee, Toronto could raise $66 million per year. It never happened.
York Region says it needs to be able to charge a vehicle registration fee and land transfer tax because it has more than $220 million per year in infrastructure needs that cannot be addressed by the current limit of a three per cent property tax increase.
“Regional Council has achieved success in meeting three key objectives: keeping annual tax levy increase below three per cent, reducing reliance on debt and saving for asset management needs,” said Town of Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow, chair of finance and administration. “Should the Province of Ontario grant City of Toronto Act, 2006 powers to York Region, we will be in an even stronger financial position to address the needs of our communities.”
According to a municipal report, the new vehicle registration tax could net the local government up to $80 million every year.
The Canadian Automobile Association called a vehicle registration tax “a punitive cost on motorists.”
The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which represents about 1,100 new-vehicle dealerships in the province, fears an arbitrary tax in a municipality with an eventual population of 1.8 million would hurt sales.
“An overwhelming majority of Ontarians say the family car is a necessity to run their household. The province and municipalities should take steps to lessen the cost of owning a vehicle in order to promote Ontario’s auto sector and make life easier for Ontario families,” TADA’s Director of Government Relations Frank Notte said in a statement. “A new Vehicle Registration Tax courtesy of your local municipality achieves neither of these goals.”
With Ontarians headed to the polls June 7 and a municipal election in York Region scheduled for the fall, TADA Executive Director Todd Bourgon demands to know where politicians at both levels stand.
“Candidates running for office should state whether or not they support a municipal vehicle registration tax before Election Day,” he said in the same statement. “Families and businesses deserve to know how much this tax would cost their budgets each and every year before casting their ballot.”