Originally published in the Toronto Star on August 10th, 2010. To go to the Toronto Star please click here
In a move that will score him big points with seniors, mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone has promised, if elected, to freeze property tax rates for anyone over 65 with a household income of less than $50,000.
The tax break would cost the city about $250,000 annually and there would be some sort of application process to ensure the system wasnt being abused, he said.
Pension rates stay frozen, yet taxes are driven up with the market, he said. This will ensure people can stay in their homes.
The announcement was part of introducing Pantalones seniors policy, Whole City, Whole Lives. Speaking to supporters at a cafÃ© in Little Italy on Tuesday, Pantalone said Toronto needs to become an age-friendly city as it prepares for major demographic shifts coming as the baby boomers enter that stage of life.
The facts are very clear. Within five years there will be more seniors in Toronto than there are children. Within 20 years, 25 percent of the people of Toronto will be senior citizens ; which by the way is double what it was five years ago, he said.
If elected, Pantalone said, he would create a position at city hall for a seniors advocate, who would report directly to the city manager and mayor.
The advocate could, for example, push for regional European-style high-speed trains, so seniors could maintain their ability to travel throughout the GTA and beyond.
Pantalone said he would also work with other levels of government to increase the amount of affordable housing available to senior citizens.
Tuesdays plan is the first major policy announcement from Pantalone since the end of June. The deputy mayor has been lying low this summer while his rivals spar. Internal polling from the Pantalone camp shows him running third, behind George Smitherman and Rob Ford.
Keywords: seniors, election, taxes