Toronto's 2018 budget could cost families $160

If you own a home in Toronto, or use its recreation facilities, you can expect to pay more this year.

Recreation user fees up with inflation, while water, garbage and property taxes climbing too

Whether you're paying a bill at city hall or heading to a city recreation facility, you can expect to pay a little bit more in 2018. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)


  • This story has been updated with new information from the city

Like it or not, you'll pay more for city services this year.

CBC Toronto has crunched the numbers and found an average homeowning family with two children can expect to pay around $160 more in 2018, a total that could easily climb based on the number of services they use.

This could change based on upcoming budget debates, however many at city hall aren't anticipating any major changes because this is an election year. 

The good news is that transit and child-care fees appear to be holding steady this year, but already-approved water and garbage rate increases and inflationary recreational fee hikes already in place will add to the tally. Here's a breakdown:

Property taxes $81
Water $47
Garbage $8
Recreational programs $8
Summer camps $16
Child care $0
Transportation $0
TOTAL $160

Budget Chief Gary Crawford admits any fee increase will be a challenge for those who are struggling, but points out that service levels are being maintained while property taxes are being kept low.

"We're also looking at the property tax levels and trying to make sure we keep them affordable for people," he told CBC Toronto.

I think we need to be real with the people of Toronto about what it takes to have the great city that they want.- Coun. Mike Layton

According to the city's data, owners of a house valued at $624,418 will pay an average of $81 more in property taxes than last year — totalling $2,906 in 2017. That doesn't include the school tax, but does include including the city building fund, tax policy shift and current value assessment impact, according to city staff.

Some councillors say it's time to increase property tax rates.

"I think we need to be real with the people of Toronto about what it takes to have the great city that they want," said Coun. Mike Layton.

Property taxes may not be the best way to generate revenue, he says, but it's the best tool the city has right now.

"I think that people are willing to pay more when they see the results, when they see an improvement in their services."

Torontonians will get a chance to share their thoughts about the budget this week, during a citywide string of public consultations.

City spokesperson Paula Chung says officials will issue more information about changing fees once council approves the final budget. 

Recreation fees

The recreation price is based on two sets of swimming lessons for two children, as well as 10 days of summer camp.

One pressure point on the recreation budget is the increase to a $14 minimum wage. A city budget report says in 2016, just over a third of its workers earned less than $15 per hour.

The city also plans to make about $9,000 from reclassifying some sports fields as "premier," which would likely increase the fees for those using them.

Holding steady

TTC fares aren't set to climb, while the city also plans to roll out two-hour transfers on the network.

Child care fees at city-run facilities will also be holding steady, children's services confirms. There are also plans to add 825 more child care subsidies.

Water and garbage (and paperwork)

In 2018, Toronto homeowners will pay an average of five per cent more for water services and two per cent more for residential curbside waste collection.

There are an additional range of fees related to utility bills that may affect you. For example, it now costs $67.61 to set up a new utility account, $18.33 to reprint a utility bill and $50.75 to confirm the balance owing on a utility account, something many need when selling a house.

The budget consultations take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. You can find details here.


John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.


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