Gravy found? Why Toronto’s daycare for cars (i.e. the Toronto Parking Authority) should get the axe
In between some of the more outlandish proposals by KPMG that will never be seriously considered (selling the Toronto Zoo, privatizing the public library system), there’s another proposal that actually should be considered: selling off the Toronto Parking Authority, either in its entirety or in part. We wrote about this a little in February, but it’s worth taking a look at—and not for the reasons you might think.
Admittedly, selling off the TPA lots might actually hurt Toronto’s financial situation—after the initial quick hit of cash from hawking the off-street garages, the city would actually have less money coming in without its favourite cash cow (although it’s possible paying down a good chunk of Toronto’s debt could change that math in complicated ways). It’s a scenario similar to the one that comes up whenever someone proposes selling the LCBO: Ontario would actually lose money in the end.
But like selling the LCBO, there are some big reasons to do it anyway. In this case, selling the TPA would be the single best thing that the city could do to discourage driving in the downtown core, probably more effective even than a road toll (which the province would never allow in any case). Without the TPA providing below-market rates on parking spaces (and before the protests come in at how expensive Green P spaces already are, check out what parking spaces are selling for downtown), the cost of driving downtown would go way up. Meaning that a lot of people would find other ways to get there.
There are other things the city could do short of selling the Green P lots, like simply raising rates on parking. But a) this would be wildly unpopular, b) the TPA’s on-street parking is required by law not to exceed $3.50 an hour, so councillors would have to change the law themselves and c) so far, council hasn’t exactly demonstrated a willingness to make the unpopular choices. So if privatization lets the city get away with a pro-transit, pro-bike, pro-downtown policy, we’re tempted to let them try it. At the very least, if the city is considering getting out of providing cheap daycare for people, it should also consider getting out of providing cheap daycare for cars. Of course, this would without a doubt open up a new front in the War on the Car—so it will probably never happen.