Mayor Rob Ford Asks TREB for Help

When Mayor Rob Ford was elected to lead the City of Toronto in 2010, he promised that he would do what he could to get rid of the land transfer tax that was costing Toronto homeowners thousands of dollars every single year. He’s been able to do little in the way of reductions so far, but on Friday met with the Toronto Real Estate Board to ask them for their help in reducing it, if they can’t eliminate it once and for all.

It was over the lunch hour yesterday when Rob Ford spoke to TREB at the Sheraton Centre and said,

“I need your help to convince these [city] councillors to start eliminating this land transfer tax. Unfortunately, they’re addicted to spending that land transfer tax, absolutely addicted to it. They want to keep it and they want to keep spending the millions of dollars it brings in,” he said to a group of about 100 people that sit on the Board.

Ford’s not wrong – that tax brings in a lot of money for the city. Last year alone it generated $344.5 million, about $56.2 million more than it was expected to, due to the huge number of homes that changed hands over the course of the year.

It wasn’t the first time Ford has brought up the issue. He’s proposed the idea to the councillors before, always met with a resistance to make any changes at all to the tax, but always lots of ideas on how to spend the cash.

Just last week city councillor Adam Vaughan suggested that they use the unexpected $56.2 million to make housing repairs at the Toronto Community Housing Corp. His request wouldn’t even be put to a vote, and instead Vaughan is to make the same presentation next month before the executive committee – one that Ford chairs.

Von Palmer, a spokesperson for TREB that was present at yesterday’s luncheon, said that it’s unrealistic to expect that this tax could be completely eliminated all at once. But he does also believe that they could make strides towards reducing it by about 10 per cent.

“I think now is a responsible time to start rolling that back,” he stated. “It’s unfair. What additional services do you get over and beyond the next person for paying that tax? There’s none.”