FIFA, housing and parking fines: three challenges in three days for Olivia Chow

TORONTO – Three challenges in three days for the Mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow: the expenses that the City will have to face to host some matches of the football FIFA World Cup, the price of parking tickets, the announced plan to convert some city ​​parking in homes. This will be discussed during the three-day city council meeting this week. 

First of all, it is the first time that city councilors will meet again since the approval of the 2024 Budget which included the largest property tax increase in decades.

The first issue will therefore be the exorbitant costs of hosting the FIFA World Cup: city councilors will delve into Toronto’s tasks for the six matches to be hosted. Taxpayer spending jumped to $380 million, up from $300 million a year ago, as rising security costs, inflation and Toronto hosting one more game than expected contributed to the increase in the “price”. City Manager Paul Johnson said there is a plan to cover the increased costs with some of the funding from other levels of government. “We’ll find other ways, so we wouldn’t have to go back to the taxpayers to fill any of these gaps,” he told the CBC. City Councilor Josh Matlow said that the City could generate revenue from the same games. “Everyone in the private sector is going to be enterprising, trying to find ways to generate revenue” he said. “When we have games in Toronto… the City should do the same thing.”

The second issue to be addressed by the Mayor and the City assembly is relating to the increase in parking fines, many of which have potentially doubled, such as those (from the current 30 to 75 dollars) for not having paid the parking fee at vending machines or for parking on a street without a valid permit. The fine for parking within three meters of a fire hydrant would also increase, from 100 to 125 dollars, as would the fine for parking a vehicle on a cycle lane, which would go from 150 to 200 dollars. Toronto could generate an additional $40 million a year in revenue from the increase, City staff say. If the council adopts the increases, they would take effect Aug. 1.

Third node, the houses in place of some parking lots. City councilors will consider converting up to 130 car parks into land to build new homes. The plan calls for staff to conduct an inventory of City-owned structures, including parking lots, to see what might be suitable for conversion into housing. The mayor acknowledges that repurposing city parking to create denser communities, particularly around transit stations, has been planned for decades, but says progress has been frustratingly slow and the current City Council needs to change that. City staff say in a report that Toronto has 300 parking spaces, many of which would not be suitable for conversion. However, examination of those lots shows that 130 could potentially support housing. Of those 130, 74 are in what staff describes as “major transit station area zones” meaning they are within a ten-minute walk of a dedicated subway, light rail or bus. Perfect, in short. Now it’s up to the councillors.

In the photo above, Mayor Olivia Chow (from Twitter X – @MayorOliviaChow)