Toronto Sidewalk ProjectSource: Sidewalk Toronto

What you need to know

  • Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs is abandoning the Quayside waterfront project in Toronto.
  • Sidewalk Labs had to make the difficult decision due to the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
  • It had announced the high-tech smart city project in 2017 in partnership with Waterfront Toronto.

Alphabet's urban innovation organization Sidewalk Labs had announced a joint effort with Waterfront Toronto to develop a "high-tech city" on Toronto's eastern waterfront in October 2017. Unfortunately, Sidewalk Labs has decided to abruptly scrap the project due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff wrote in a post on Medium that it has become too difficult for the company to make the project financially viable due to the "unprecedented economic uncertainty" caused by the pandemic. While Sidewalk Labs is walking away from the ambitious project, nonprofit organization Waterfront Toronto has released a statement saying it will "continue to seek public and expert input" to make a next generation community at Quayside a reality.

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When it announced the project three years back, Sidewalk Labs had planned to spend $1.3 billion on residential units made from timber, public Wi-Fi, sensors to track people's movements, and redesigning streets to encourage walking and biking. Although it had originally said that it would build the project on a vacant 12-acre patch, a report published by The Toronto Star in February 2019 revealed the company had envisioned redeveloping a much larger 350-acre area. Eight months later, Waterfront Toronto voted to limit the project area to 12 acres.

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