|Monday, May 18, 1903
|The Globe (Toronto)
Taxing the railways.
The railway companies have been heard in protest against the proposed change in the method of assessing them for municipal taxation. The wide difference between the taxation in Canada and in the United States affords grounds for the assumption that a systematic method of assessment by competent men would result in a material increase in the amounts at present contributed to the municipalities. It is clear that our railways are paying less than other corporations in proportion to the value of their property, and while that condition lasts there will be a demand for an adjustment. It has been pointed out frequently that any material increase in their taxation would be met by proportionate increases in their charges. While this is true in a large measure, it applies only to general imposts and general rates.
A change in the direction of greater regularity would adjust local inequalities and mitigate local grievances, and for that reason it should be welcomed by the railway companies as well as by the general public. It is not in the interests of these corporations, nor of the Dominion as a whole, to have them singled out for continuous attack. The bill introduced by the Premier provides that any increase made by the board of assessors in the present municipal assessment of railways shall not take effect at once, but shall be extended over a period of ten years, ten per cent. being added each year. This would save the railways from any hardship, and would give an opportunity of observing the effect of a partial application of the system. Canada, and especially Ontario, has dealt liberally with railway companies, and there is no danger of a departure in the direction of harshness or anything approaching confiscation. The new system will establish regularity and uniformity, and, if it does nothing more, will be effecting a desirable change.