KINSELLA: City of Toronto does about-face on rainwater tax

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Zap! You’re gone!

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Take that, Rain Tax™!

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Just days after the Toronto Sun revealed the city’s plan to impose a Rain Tax™ — honestly, they were planning on doing that — municipal bureaucrats have executed a whiplash-inducing about-face, and sort-of scrapped it.

And who says the Sun doesn’t get results?

And, make no mistake: This was no late April Fools’ joke. The City of Toronto was, indeed, planning on slapping a new tax on you — for how much rainwater falls on your property. Which, the last time we checked, you don’t really have much control over.

And which is, you know, good for the environment they always profess to be concerned about.

To recap: In a little-noticed release that read like something out of Monty Python, city mavens claimed they were seeking input on what they called the “Stormwater Charge & Water Service Charge Consultation.”

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Key parts of their “consultation” included these whoppers:

— “Stormwater is rain and melted snow. When not absorbed into the ground, stormwater runs off hard surfaces, on to streets, down storm drains and through a network of pipes that carry it into local waterways.” You know: The storm drains that your tax dollars already pay for.

— “In urbanized areas like Toronto, there are a lot of hard surfaces. When severe storms happen, more stormwater runs off hard surfaces and enters the city’s sewer system. Too much stormwater can overwhelm the city’s sewer system, which can lead to flooded basements and impacts to surface water quality in Toronto’s rivers, streams and Lake Ontario’s waterfront.” Get that? Rain is bad for — yes, they actually said that — Lake Ontario.

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— “The city would undertake individual assessments of each property using aerial photography to determine the hard surface area (m2) on a property.” That is the best one — the city was planning on deploying a fleet of drones (all NDP orange, perhaps) that would hover your property and guesstimate how much rooftop you’ve got.

City of Toronto: Rain and rooftops, bad. More taxes, good.

Anyway, after the truth, er, seeped out, and the Sun revealed the shocking facts to our fellow tax-weary plebes, apparatchiks at City Hall paddled away, fast.

They posted this on their website this week: “Thank you for your interest in this consultation. Consultation has been paused to allow city staff to do further work to align the possible implementation of a stormwater charge with the city’s broader climate resilience strategy, as well as the commercial parking levy being considered and the city’s long-term financial plan. Future updates will be provided once available.”

“Paused” ain’t killed, fellow Waterworld citizens! Will the city try again after they “do further work” on their waterlogged scheme?

The Sun is watching — and we will be reporting back to a water-weary Gotham!

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