BBTCA and Environmental Assessment Feedback – Immense Existing Subsidies from City and Federal Government

This is the ninth in a series of comments CommunityAIR submitted on Wednesday, May 20, on the Proposed Environmental Assessment (EA) Study Design/Scope in what has been described by people with experience in such matters as a sham EA.

The PortsToronto consultant, AECOM, proposes to consider public comments in deciding the final study components that AECOM will use to serve PortsToronto’s purpose in conducting the sham EA.

CommunityAIR’s comments cover 11 subject areas, are extensive and pointed, and are best digested slowly. They are listed below and will be presented individually over the next few weeks.

From free land to other give-aways, to preferential tax treatment, the federal government and the City are making it easier for PortsToronto to declare annual profits rather than paying a fair share at a fair rate like every other taxpayer who uses federal and municipal services does.

Subject Areas

1.   Bias
2.   Public Interest and Policy
3.   Climate Change
4.   Flawed EA Design
5.   Runway End Safety Areas
6.   Permitted and Proposed Growth Scenarios
7.   Compliance with Tripartite Agreement
8.   Bird Hazard Zone
9.   Immense Existing Subsidies from City and Federal Government
10. Transportation
11. Emergency Response and Access

9. Immense Existing Subsidies from City and Federal Government

The “Socio-Economic Environment” [page 22] ignores the immense subsidies provided to the Airport by the City and the Federal Government.

These subsidies have a direct impact on those governments by depriving them of revenue that they would otherwise receive:

  • The queuing lanes on the west side of Eireann Quay and the parking lot on Little Norway Crescent and a significant portion of the Airport lands are City-owned, but leased to PortsToronto for only nominal rent – until 2033, or earlier, if the Island Airport is closed.
  • The balance of the Airport lands are Federal Government assets, transferred to PortsToronto without charge.
  • Porter has been given the right to use those valuable lands by Ports Toronto without any charges for their use, other than payment of Airport operating costs.
  • Unlike every other property owner in Toronto, property taxes are paid to the City for the Airport lands, not based on the current market value of those lands, but on a per-passenger basis, at a rate yielding payments far less than other taxpayers pay.
  • PortsToronto has allowed property tax arrears, based upon that current market value regime, to exceed $50,000,000[1] .
  • The Island Airport lands, situated in downtown Toronto, are exceedingly valuable, with MPAC assessment for 2012 of $144,423,000.
  • At the Toronto commercial tax rate of about three percent, property taxes payable on the Island Airport lands should have been $4,332,690 for 2012.
  • PortsToronto’s proposed per-passenger payment would amount to about $1,786,000, based on 2012 Island Airport passenger levels.
    That’s $2,546,690 less than any other City taxpayer would have to pay for those 215 acres in that year.

 

[1] At a meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council on March 20, 2012, a City Finance official stated that the City had billed $58M in property taxes on the Island Airport lands for the period to the end of 2010, while the TPA had paid only $9M

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