Home Tech Toronto wants to manage storms and floods with a rain tax

Toronto wants to manage storms and floods with a rain tax

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Toronto wants to manage storms and floods with a rain tax

This story originally appeared in Canadian National Observer and is part of the Climatic desk collaboration.

A plan to charge Toronto homeowners and businesses for paved surfaces on their properties is generating a public backlash, an avalanche of negative attention from international mediaand even mocking comments Donald Trump Jr..

The protest reached such a crescendo last week that the city canceled public hearings on the tax, which is intended to help offset hundreds of millions spent on stormwater management and basement flooding.

Dubbed “the rain tax” by critics, including the son of the former US president. in Xto The SkyNews presenter also condemned plan and discouraged people from visiting Canada’s largest city by saying, “You thought it couldn’t get any worse… Don’t go to Toronto because they’re going to tax you when it rains.”

The amount of hard surface would determine the controversial stormwater charge on a property that does not absorb water, such as roofs, driveways, parking lots or concrete landscaping.

“When there is a big storm, basements flood, roads flood, sewage overflows and runs into the lake or into our rivers,” Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said in a statement. online video publishing on X. “Rainwater runs off paved surfaces instead of being absorbed into the ground. “It overwhelms our water infrastructure, causes damage to your home and the environment.”

The new rate would adjust water bills to reduce water consumption rates and add a stormwater charge based on property size and hardscape.

Online public consultations were to be followed by public meetings. However, after less than a week, online queries were slow and public meetings canceled. He city ​​complaints The delay is necessary so staff can find a way to combine the new fee with the city’s broader climate resilience strategy.

Chow said he would prefer if the city offered residents financial incentives to plant gardens in their backyards or install permeable pavement to help drain rain.

“I don’t think it’s fair to have a stormwater policy that requires property owners to pay while letting businesses with huge parking lots off the hook,” Chow said. Many businesses with large paved areas, such as parking lots, do not pay water bills and therefore do not contribute to stormwater management.

“That’s why I’m calling on Toronto Water to come back to city council with a plan that supports more green infrastructure, prevents flooding and keeps water bills low,” Chow said.

In the past year city ​​budget, a 10-year plan (2023 to 2032) allocated $4.3 billion for stormwater management, including the $2.11 billion Basement Flood Protection Program. Last year alone, the city invested $225.3 million in the basement program.

Other nearby cities, such as Mississauga, Vaughanand MarkhamThey have had stormwater charges for a long time.

In an email response, the city of Vaughan said its stormwater charge supports numerous programs and initiatives throughout the city to help protect the environment, property and water quality. Vaughan’s stormwater rate in 2024 is $64.20 annually for a single detached residential unit, an increase from last year’s rate of $58.63, the city said.

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