Wynne could get frostbite from North – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – May 30, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

An HST increase to help pay for improvements to the Toronto-Hamilton transportation corridor could be lethal for Premier Kathleen Wynne outside of that region. Yet she’s seriously considering campaigning on the issue in the next election.

It is a curious gambit, one that could undo the efforts she’s making to win back support in rural Ontario. But as we saw in the last election, if the Liberals can ride their support in urban areas, they need only a little help in the outlands to give them a majority.

Municipalities outside of the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) have their financial problems, and some even have innovative solutions that require the province’s help, but rarely does the government abide. Toronto, however, is a different story.

A report by Metrolinx, the regional transit authority, says $2 billion more is needed annually to pay for transit improvements to alleviate congestion, hence its support for a one-percentage-point increase to the HST. Other revenue generating tools would be applicable only in the GTHA, but the HST hike would likely be levied province-wide.

On Wednesday, Sun Media columnist Christina Blizzard asked, “If you live in Timmins or Niagara Falls, how do you feel about that?”

Well, let’s take a look at the sprawling municipality of Greater Sudbury. Sprawling? Yes, the 3,200 square kilometres that comprise the city could cover 15 Greater Toronto Area municipalities combined, including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Oshawa.

Sudbury is a mining community whose roads are consistently listed as among the worst in the province. Suspension systems and axles pop like twigs. For years, the city has pleaded with the province to return some of the hundreds of millions of dollars collected throughout the province every year in mining royalties to host municipalities.

The vast majority of these funds go to the provincial and federal governments. Indeed, revenue growth from mining royalties to senior levels of government has increased significantly in recent years, while revenues to municipalities have flatlined.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/05/30/macleod-wynne-could-get-frostbite-from-north

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