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A GO train heading into Union Station travels past traffic heading to the westbound Gardiner Expressway on ramp is backed up from Queens Quay East on Sept 27, 2023.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario municipalities say steep property tax increases being proposed across the province are partly the result of Ontario offloading various costs to local governments in the 1990s.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says it’s time for a frank talk about who pays for what.

The province announced a “new deal” for Toronto late last year, in which it agreed to take over the cost of two highways to help ease the city’s financial pressures, and now other communities want similar support.

Still, Toronto says financial pressures are leading it to propose a 10.5 per cent property tax increase and the municipal association says other communities are looking at increases of over five or even 10 per cent.

The association’s executive director says municipalities and their taxpayers are paying for infrastructure and services that should be the province’s responsibility, such as public health, land ambulance services, bridges and highways.

Brian Rosborough says there is a direct line from the downloading that took place in the 1990s to the property tax increases today.

The association will be pushing this week at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference for a broader rethink of the provincial-municipal relationship.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra says he is looking forward to talks at this week’s conference.

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