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Sidewalk Labs unveils site plan for Toronto’s Quayside development

Sidewalk Labs says it aims to set a “new standard for urban living” but the project has not been without controversy.

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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs has revealed its latest proposal for the new high-tech neighbourhood it is building at Quayside on Toronto’s waterfront.

The development will have 40 per cent below-market housing, including 20 per cent affordable housing. Sidewalk Labs has estimated that the project will create over 9,000 new jobs in construction and around 3,900 jobs upon completion.

 

The development will have 40 per cent below-market housing, including 20 per cent affordable housing.

 

All of the buildings at Quayside will be made of mass-timber. Sidewalk Labs says this will be the greatest concentration of mass timber buildings in the world and that this “will energise the Canadian timber industry placing the country in a world-leading position in design, fabrication and construction.”


Sidewalk Labs claims the development will see a 75-85 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard developments.

 

The neighbourhood will have a light rail transit system, Vision Zero safety initiatives and ‘flexible streets’ to prepare for an automated vehicle future.


On launching the draft site plan, Sidewalk Labs has again raised its proposal for an independent Civic Data Trust for urban data, noting “No one has a right to own information collected from Quayside, including Sidewalk Labs.”

 

Shaping the conversation


Jesse Shapins, Director of Public Realm, Sidewalk Labs, said: “We know how important the revitalisation of Quayside is for the city and everyone who lives here. Torontonians want more affordable housing, faster ways to get around the city, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, a cleaner and healthier environment.

 

"That’s what we are aiming to do by creating this new neighbourhood. This draft site plan released today demonstrates what we are envisioning for Quayside and how we aim to address these critical challenges facing Toronto.”

 

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, commented: "I’m glad to see Sidewalk Labs has released its initial proposal for Quayside – this will help shape the ongoing conversation about the future of this important site on our waterfront. We now have a better idea of what they would like to see the neighbourhood look like once it is built and how it can feature innovation on a global scale for the benefit of Torontonians and urban residents around the world."

 

"I’m glad to see Sidewalk Labs has released its initial proposal for Quayside – this will help shape the ongoing conversation about the future of this important site on our waterfront." (John Tory, Mayor of Toronto)

 

He added: “The Quayside plan includes 40 per cent below-market housing – with 20 per cent affordable housing and 20 per cent middle-income housing – which is encouraging, as is the fact that under this plan 3,900 jobs would also be in this neighbourhood.”

 

“Reality check”

 

Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside project has been controversial.

 

In October, tech entrepreneur Saadia Muzaffar resigned from the Digital Strategy Advisory Panel of Waterfront Toronto, describing its “apathy” and “utter lack of leadership regarding shaky public trust and social license” as “astounding”. She also cited concern around its partnership with Sidewalk Labs.

 

Later that month, privacy expert, Ann Cavoukian resigned from her position as advisor to Sidewalk Labs because of concerns over personal data security. Cavoukian, former information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, stated in her resignation letter that the proposed protection of personal data “is not acceptable”.

 

Following the latest announcement from Sidewalk Labs, Jennifer Keesmaat, former CEO, Creative Housing Society, and former Chief Planner, Toronto, tweeted: “Reality check: Sidewalk Labs has laid out a relatively conventional development plan (fine) on waterfront land. But 60% will be *luxury* housing. Toronto, we need to raise our expectations. This is our land. Why are we settling for a little bit better?”

 

What’s next?

 

The site plan was presented to the public at the 4th Public Roundtable which took place this weekend. Feedback will be incorporated into a more detailed Master Innovation and Development Plan, which is expected to be released in early 2019. This will be reviewed by Waterfront Toronto and government and undergo further public consultations.

 

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