The Provincial Places to Grow Act has mandated that Halton plan to grow to approximately 1 million people by 2041, imposing significant financial challenges on the Region. In order to meet this target while maintaining a high quality of life, building the necessary infrastructure and ensuring the financial integrity of the Region, significant investments from the provincial government must be made.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced that she will refuse to give Toronto council permission to impose tolls on the two city-owned highways, the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. This was something that surrounding municipalities were not consulted on.
Municipalities only receive 11 per cent of every tax dollar paid. Halton Region continues to experience funding shortfalls in public health programs, including paramedic services. In total, this represents a funding shortfall of $9.7 million in 2017. In addition, to responsibly and effectively support mandated growth, provincial funding investments are required. Municipalities do not have the adequate revenue tools to satisfy the “growth pays for growth” principle. As a result of these limitations, there is an estimated funding gap of $14.1 million per year and combined, there exists a tax impact of 10 per cent on the Regional portion of property taxes to the residents of Halton.
“The province is presently breaking its agreement with Halton on what it is supposed to be funding in transfers,” commented Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “If they don’t provide sustainable funding that includes the cost of growth, then Halton Region is not going to implement the Places to Grow Act, and we will refuse to increase growth in our region.” In 2016 the provincial government set the funding level at $505 million, and is set to maintain that level this year.