Perhaps the first thing to say about yesterday’s Ontario budget is that it perfectly embodies the government of Dalton McGuinty: no surprises, nothing terribly showy, just a hope that incremental progress in certain areas and doubling down on the two biggies for any province (health care and education) will win the Liberals re-election. The problem for us is that there’s nothing here for cities. We set out to write a blog post about what’s in the budget for Toronto, but really and truly, there’s bupkis—unless you count a little bit of an eff-you to Etobicoke. From the Globe and Mail:
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 sits 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.”
It’s hard to imagine the vanilla McGuinty government doing something out of spite, but this is all of course happening in the context of Mayor Ford’s threat to turn out “Ford Nation” if he didn’t get what he wanted from Queen’s Park. The budget is so boring we’re tempted to read this as the beginning of a throwdown, just to get our pulse up.