The Road to Ruin

By Ted Mitchell
Published January 10, 2007

Your taxes are going up again.

CATCH's latest news release "CATCH News - Budget shows steep rise in road spending" (which should be available shortly on their website) tells us that, surprise, capital spending on roads is going through the roof and shows no signs of stopping.

This is despite the shortfalls of slashing the budgets for parks, forestry and recreation centers.

Then, the bickering turns to blaming the Province. The only thing Hamilton can justifiably criticize the provincial government for is unfair downloading of social services.

The unhealthy poor from all around tend to flock to areas where the cost of living is cheap, such as in Hamilton's rotting core.

The rest of our problems are entirely self-inflicted, and the biggest problem now and in the near future is roads.

Roads are really expensive, only most people don't think so, because they have never directly paid for using them. That massive bill is hidden in the taxes you pay at all levels of government.

The only way out of this is not to beg the province for more money, but to have the people who use roads fund those roads directly. That perfectly fair scenario involves either bumping up the gas tax, tolling roads, or both.

The status quo, subsidizing personal vehicles via property taxes at the expense of valuable city services, is patently ridiculous.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.

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By (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2007 at 16:01:13

I've always, up till now, thought that tolling roads was a great idea - user pay! But recently I've been taking more seriously the voices of the anti-poverty activists that might say in response to this idea that this will only serve to widen the gap between rich and poor - after all just who will be the firest forced off the road because they can't pay? Probably not most of the upper classes (some may choose to out of outrage at being charged). Folks living on the edge will be further disadvantaged. And I'm not sure that poorer folks (with less professional jobs etc) have the same flexibility in regards to where they can live or where they can work, to the extent that the more well off can.
Food for thought anyway... I'd sure like to discourage car culture, but can't think my way out of the immediate social implications of user pay.

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