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Tools Municipalities Can Use for Environmental Pricing Reform

By ReNew Canada 07:00AM May 18, 2010

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National policy and research network, Sustainable Prosperity, has released a new report to help both municipal leaders and their private sector partners use environmental pricing reform (EPR) to build more sustainable communities.

The Smart Budget report, co-authored by David Thompson and Andrew Bevan, works from the premise that there’s a growing recognition amongst the public, business, and governments that they must do their part to address the developed world’s impact on the environment. But local governments, mostly limited to property taxes as a source of income, have limited budgets. In Toronto, the City of Toronto Act, passed in 2006, gives the City the authority to implement other taxation measures. But the revenue created out of the new Municipal Land Transfer Tax and Personal Vehicle Ownership Tax is a drop in the bucket.

At a recent CUI session on fiscal sustainability for Toronto, Enid Slack with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs said, “The fallback is to go begging from the federal government and the Province. It’s easy, but [any funding acquired] is not stable and predictable.”

The Smart Budget report aims to prove that EPR can help to bridge both the gap between environmental vision and implementation, and the gap between the current fiscal constraints and the needed fiscal flexibility. The idea is to shifts prices—a powerful driver of decisions and behaviour—to help municipalities achieve their goals.

This document provides an introduction to EPR for local governments, and a user-friendly portal to many useful and accessible resources. Sustainable Prosperity also has a State of Knowledge on Market Tools for Sustainable Communities, which showcases best practices of municipal EPR tools in Canada.

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