Friday, March 16, 2007

Moscoe floats a parking tax - Toronto Star

Moscoe floats a parking tax
Councillor's discussion paper suggests imposing new fees, and using revenue raised to build lots at TTC stations
March 16, 2007
John Spears
City Hall Bureau

Toronto should consider imposing a new licensing fee or tax on parking lots in Toronto and use the revenue to build new commuter parking lots at transit stations, says Councillor Howard Moscoe.

Moscoe floated the idea in a discussion paper that argues for bringing the city's parking policies more in line with an overall development strategy.

Toronto has the power to impose such a levy under the new City of Toronto Act, Moscoe says. (Asked how much the added burden should raise the cost of a parking spot, he replied, "I have no idea.")

The Toronto Parking Authority should take over TTC lots that need to be expanded, Moscoe said. One way to expand them is to turn open-air lots into multi-level parking.

"We're looking at the possibility of decking some of our lots," said Moscoe, who chairs the licensing and standards committee. "The TTC has recently been requested to look at the possibility of decking the Wilson station lot."

Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) said the parking authority also needs to shift its priorities from providing "cheap parking in commercial areas" to inducing "people to get out of their cars and take transit."

Moscoe's paper suggests the city also needs to rethink its policy on private lots.

Downtown sites waiting to be redeveloped often become "temporary" lots – in some cases for 10 years or more. Unlike commercial lots, they do not have to comply with zoning bylaws or be landscaped and well lit.

The city should push owners to redevelop these sites, and increasing taxes on temporary lots would provide a suitable incentive, Moscoe argues.

"Fees should be higher on those lots that are temporary, and should be progressive," he writes, "so that if someone applies to extend the temporary use of land for a parking lot, they should pay progressively larger fees."
I'm sure people will jump to conclusions and say what they normally say about Howard Moscoe, but if you stop to think about his ideas, you'll find that most are good ideas. From my classes, I've learned that parking lots (and golf courses - see the latest episode of the Brampton Project) are usually an intermediate step between a developer buying a property and developing it. By making it more expensive to hold property at this intermediate step, they will either develop faster or the market price of a parking spot will increase. Either way, it results in a scarcity of cheap parking, making transit the only viable option. I simply hope that the money collected from such a policy goes to transit, and not to general revenue. Perhaps this can be done by merging the Toronto Parking Authority with the TTC.

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