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Premier Dalton McGuinty, left, and mayor Rob Ford meet at Queen's Park in Toronto.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario budget offered scant new spending for Toronto, but city hall expressed relief instead of rage.

Toronto budget chief Mike Del Grande said he was thankful the provincial Liberals managed to trim their deficit predictions without cutting any city-centred programs, and hinted of a provincial windfall to come.

"The number one thing to take away is that there was no transit cut," he said. "Keep in mind that there's lots of time until the Oct. 6 [provincial]election for other announcements."

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Optimism aside, the budget is a meagre offering to a mayor who asked Premier Dalton McGuinty for more than $150-million just one month ago.

Of a handful of Toronto-specific announcements in the budget, the biggest of all is a cut: canceling construction on the $181-million Toronto West Courthouse slated for the old Westwood Theatre lands in Mayor Rob Ford's backyard of Etobicoke.

The site was city land purchased by the province on the promise a criminal court would go up within five years.

"We want our land back," said Peter Milczyn, Councillor for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, where the courthouse site idle at the intersection of Bloor and Dundas Streets. "It's disappointing. This was to be the catalyst towards redeveloping these lands and creating a healthy mixed-use area. If the deal's off, we should get it back and move on with other plans."

The budget is just as significant for what it doesn't provide the city. Last month, Mr. Ford asked the province for $153-million and a new 50/50 cost-sharing arrangement for the TTC. Mr. McGuinty balked, and the mayor threatened to rally his supporters - whom he termed "Ford Nation" - against the governing Liberals.

Through his Finance Minister, the Premier appeared unfazed by the prospect of such a backlash. "We're not going to agree on everything," Dwight Duncan said of the Toronto mayor. "I look forward to working with Mayor Ford ... I have a great deal of respect for him."

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About the Author
National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

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