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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. I’m not unsympathetic to the argument that elderly people who bought their houses when a house cost 10 grand etc. etc. etc. but presumably the mortgages on those houses are paid off and their offspring mostly self-sufficient? (Unless they fell for the reverse mortgage spiel in which case they aren’t making payments anyway)

    How about homebuyers in their 20s and 30s who are making mortgage payments, raising kids and pay property tax too? As it is, the city operates two programmes to defer or purge tax increases for elderly residents.

    Many live alone in houses built for medium sized families – at what point does good environmental policy say it’s not wrong to financially encourage downsizing to a townhouse or condo? (Disclosure – one of my relatives is in this position, and she knows what I think about it).

    For some people, mental deterioration would entail distress from losing the familiar and therefore they should be able to stay put. But for those that can, why shouldn’t there be a financial incentive to relocate and improve the ability of growing families to access housing that isn’t in a 60s tower block with window air conditioners?

  2. Mark,

    You raise an interesting issue. Every time the issue of increasing taxes is raised in Toronto the “senior shield”, as I like to call it, is employed. They know full well about the programs available for seniors. It just allows politicians to support the low residential tax climate that is killing this city.

  3. Mark,
    You raised an excellent point regarding need to encourage people to live in more environmentally responsible accommodations (ie, less space). Having a single person (or a couple, elderly or otherwise) living in a home that used to be inhabited by 4, 6, and 8 individuals does not represent good environmental stewardship. Unfortunately, a look at the last few rounds of Stats Canada figures shows that the trend in the City of Toronto is a marked decline in the average number of people per single family dwelling. (Given that shelter ..heating/AC.. makes up about 50% of our carbon footprint, it’s a wonder to me why so few green advocates have made an issue of how many of us are pigs in terms of the living space we occupy.) All the energy-efficient gains we are making in terms of home building and retrofits are simply not making up for the added waste being generated with the trend to increased living space per person.

    Yes, wanting to stay in familiar surroundings is one reason why the elderly often remain in family homes that are too big for them alone after the children have left. But another big reason, is the cost associated with moving. Selling a home and buying another (even a smaller townhome or condo) is a big hit given all the expenses involved. Unfortunately, the City’s new Land Transfer Tax (paid by buyer but often tacitly factored into selling price so that seller can also be said to pay) has made home buying and selling even more expensive in Toronto.

    Policies that discourage people from moving to more environmentally suitable housing (whether in terms of space or proximity to their activities) are bad for the environment… but I guess that point was lost on all those defending the City’s move to implement a new Land Transfer Tax.

  4. Glen> More people would be able to engage with your ideas if you didn’t use rhetoric like “killing” and “rape”.

  5. Shawn,

    I doubt it. Hyperbole aside, the last thread I raised the issue in contained a contribution by ” city staff insider ” whom, if he really is, showed a marked ignorance to the fiscal issues discussed. We also had Mark suggest that if Peel had more expenses, the tax gap would shrink. This when Peel residents already pay more taxes for less services.

    Whenever I have raised the issue here the response is usually on or two line barbs lacking in any substance.

    I will try though, and refrain from using such rhetoric and see if that improves the discourse.