Mayoral candidate will introduce corporate parking lot levy to fund environmental priorities
April 21, 2023 – In the lead up to Earth Day, mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that he will invest $200-million annually in new money to accelerate Toronto’s progress towards reaching net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040, as outlined in the 2021 TransformTO Net Zero Strategy. This is the first plank of Matlow’s environment platform.
“The climate crisis is the greatest existential threat to humanity. The City’s existing climate strategy, TransformTO, is an ambitious, fact-based plan for a greener Toronto, but it doesn’t have dedicated funding,” said Matlow. “Rather than letting this deeply important, action-oriented strategy sit on the shelf, I will invest $200-million to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions caused by how we build, move and consume so that we can move forward towards achieving our promised goals.”
The strategy lays out concrete steps Toronto must take to meet its target of zero environmentally damaging carbon emissions by 2040. The priorities are to: phase out fossil fuels, such as natural gas in homes and buildings and gasoline in cars; generate and distribute renewable energy to meet future energy needs; and improve the efficiency of buildings and transportation.
With guidance from the City’s environmental experts, this $200-million annual investment will help Toronto achieve its ambitious targets by funding efforts to:
Build smarter by mandating all new large residential and commercial construction runs off electric energy by 2028. Buildings are responsible for 58% of Toronto’s emissions – the largest source of emissions in Toronto.
Retrofit existing buildings in Toronto, including switching buildings from fossil fuels to electric energy, which has the ability to run on renewable energy. This includes expanding the Tower Renewal program to encourage physical retrofits.
Move forward with a TTC ridership growth strategy that includes improved service and lower fares; build more pedestrian-friendly communities; and connect Toronto’s bike lanes to make a true city-wide network.
Electrify the City’s vehicle fleet, including TTC buses; require all taxis and ridesharing vehicles be electric by 2030; mandate electric charging stations in all new housing developments and install them on public land, including schools and libraries.
The $200-million in climate funding will be raised by moving ahead with a new commercial parking lot levy examined by City staff earlier this year in a Budget Briefing Note. The note estimated a commercial parking lot tax could raise between $171 to $535 million per year. The implementation is estimated to take between 12-18 months and the technical details will have to be considered by City finance experts. Matlow has estimated parking levy revenues on the low end as he would exempt grocery stores, public institutions, small neighbourhood strip malls, electric vehicle charging spots, spaces for expectant mothers, those with mobility challenges and others to ensure the levy is applied equitably.
In addition to raising needed funds, the levy would target large, corporate surface mall parking and downtown corporate parking lots to reduce impermeable, heat-absorbing concrete surfaces and discourage unnecessary trips made by car.
“Clean water and clean air are essential to our quality of life as well as our long-term economic sustainability,” said Matlow. “Investing now in energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicles, transit and clean energy are part of making Toronto a vibrant, green and thriving city.”
Matlow started out his career as co-director of Earthroots, a Toronto-based environmental non-governmental organization, where he championed efforts to achieve protection legislation for the Oak Ridges Moraine and Ontario’s Greenbelt.
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.