Transit Service & Property Taxation

Clerk's Department

Recently, Sarnia City Council has asked for public input regarding how Sarnia Transit is funded through property taxation.  This information provides some of the background related to Transit Tax, and requests that residents complete the Transit Tax survey prior to August 04, 2017.

Additional information, including related council reports, can be found by visiting

The survey is available at or a paper version is available from the Customer Service Centre at City Hall.  Any questions – please email or call 519-332-0330.

Transit Service and Property Taxation Public Input Session

A Council-led Public Input Session regarding transit service and property taxation will be held at Sarnia City Hall on June 19, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Specialized Transit vs. Conventional Transit

Sarnia Transit provides public transportation. This includes conventional bus service, specialized transit (Care-A-Van), and transportation support for major events and charter services, and emergency services as needed.

Care-A-Van specialized transit service is application-based and provides accessible door-to-door transportation using lift equipped vehicles to those unable to use conventional fixed-route transit due to a physical disability, as per the Integrated Regulations of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Conventional transit service is provided along fixed bus routes within the City at regular intervals on a schedule.

Both conventional and specialized transit service operate Monday to Friday from 6:30am to 10:15pm and Saturday from 8:00 am to 10:15pm and Sunday from 8:30am to 6:15pm.

Property Tax & Transit

In accordance with Section 326 of the Municipal Act, City Council established By-Law 40 of 2003, “A By-Law to Levy Special Service Area Rate for Transit.”  The Transit Special Service Area represents a boundary of approximately 450 meters from each transit route. Approximately 25,800 homes pay transit tax and 2,210 do not.

Refer to the Transit Area Boundary Map. Only the properties located within the Special Service Area (shaded area) contribute to funding the costs associated with providing conventional public transit. Care-A-Van specialized transit is provided to eligible citizens, and runs throughout the entire city.  All property types such as homes, business and industries located within the special service area pay transit tax.

Transit Area Boundary Map

Cost of Providing Transit Services

Users of both conventional and specialized (Care-A-Van) transit pay a fare, which is the same for both types of service.  Gasoline tax is provided to the City and is used to help pay for transit.  However, the cost of operating transit services, as in other Ontario Municipalities, is more than what is collected through fares or gasoline tax.  The remainder of the cost is collected through Property Taxation.  The chart below shows that $3,767,889 or 60% of the cost of conventional transit and $913,000 or 81% of specialized transit is funded through property taxation.

2017 Transit Operating Budget Conventional Transit Specialized Transit Total Transit
User Fare ($1,870,300) ($80,900) ($1,951,200)
Gasoline Tax, etc. ($601,102) ($137,599) ($738,701)
Expenditures $6,239,291 $1,131,530 $7,370,821
Funded through Property Taxation $3,767,889 $913,031 $4,680,920
% Paid by Fares 30% 7% 26%
% Paid by Property Tax 60% 81% 64%
Property Tax Type Transit Levy General Levy

Bus Fares (as of May 2017)

Sarnia Transit prices for use of the transit system are comparable to other Cities, as shown below.

Transit System Cash Fare Ticket Fare Pass Fare
Brantford 3.00 2.90 73.50
Kingston 3.00 2.50 76.00
London 2.75 1.90 81.00
Niagara Falls 2.75 2.50 75.00
Peterborough 2.50 2.20 60.00
Sarnia 3.00 2.35 73.00
Sault Ste. Marie 2.75 2.20 65.00
St. Catharines 3.00 2.60 92.00
Sudbury 3.20 2.50 87.00
Thunder Bay 2.75 2.48 77.00
Windsor 3.00 2.50 95.70
Average Fare 2.95 2.44 81.62

If the Transit Tax was eliminated, how would this impact taxpayer’s?

The chart below shows the estimated impact on the various types of properties in the city.  For instance, a single-family residence assessed at $100,000 that is currently paying the transit tax, would see their property tax bill go down $8.65, and one that isn’t paying the transit tax now would see their tax bill go up by $47.02.  In total the tax dollars collected would not change, but they would be redistributed and shared by all owners within each tax class as shown in the right hand columns below.

Tax Class Difference per $100,000 of Assessment


Total Change in Dollars for everyone CURRENTLY…
PAYING for Transit NOT PAYING for Transit PAYING for Transit NOT PAYING for Transit
Residential -8.65 47.02 -433,507 433,507
Taxable Farmland -3.03 16.46 -312 312
Commercial – Farmland -3.03 16.46 -95 95
Industrial – Farmland -3.03 16.46 -991 991
Multi-Residential -20.75 112.85 -457 457
Commercial – Occupied -14.06 76.51 -53,997 53,997
Commercial – Excess Land -9.85 53.56 -1,312 1,312
Commercial – Vacant Lands -9.43 51.31 -272 272
New Commercial -14.06 76.51 -4,523 4,523
New Commercial Excess -9.85 53.56 -234 234
Shopping Centres-Occupied -18.01 97.97 -453 453
Industrial – Occupied -17.7 96.28 -42,545 42,545
Industrial – Excess Land -11.5 62.58 -6,074 6,074
Industrial – Vacant Lands -11.5 62.58 -5,732 5,732
New Industrial -17.7 96.28 -5,302 5,302
Large Industrial-Occupied -25.96 141.23 -24,470 24,470
Pipelines -11.6 63.12 -126 126
Farm -2.17 11.75 -15,640 15,640
Managed Forests -2.17 11.75 -16 16
-596,058 596,058
  • Estimated using 2016 Tax Policy and 2017 Assessment Values

CLICK HERE to complete this survey.