Alphabet To Build “Future City” in Toronto

Sidewalk Labs, a division of Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company, has signed a deal to map out a new kind of neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront that could demonstrate how data-driven technology can improve the quality of city life.

Sidewalk Labs and the government agency Waterfront Toronto have this week announced a partnership which will see an initial investment of US$50million in a 12-month planning process for Quayside, a 12-acre district on the city’s waterfront. This is the first project of its kind for Alphabet, and for Sidewalk Labs, with the promise of further acreage to be developed in the future.

If the initiative proceeds, it would include at least 3.3 million square feet of residential, office and commercial space, including a new headquarters for Google Canada, in a district that would be a test bed for the combination of technology and urbanism.

Sidewalk Toronto is a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to create a new kind of mixed-use, complete community on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront, beginning with the creation of Quayside. Sidewalk Toronto will combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.

Waterfront Toronto was established in 2001 by the Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto to lead the renewal of the city’s waterfront in becoming a world-class archetype of post-industrial innovative urban development.

Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company that uses new technology to address big urban challenges and improve quality of life in cities, bringing together the urbanists who led New York City’s post-9/11 revival with the technologists who made Google one of the world’s most innovative companies.

Sidewalk Toronto will begin with a new neighbourhood, called Quayside, located at Parliament Slip, just southeast of Downtown Toronto. Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto aim to bring the innovations advanced at Quayside to scale across the Eastern Waterfront, more than 325 hectares (800 acres) that represent one of North America’s largest areas of underdeveloped urban land.

After exploring opportunities all over the world, Sidewalk Labs responded to a Request for Proposals issued in March 2017 by Waterfront Toronto that sought an innovation and funding partner for the Eastern Waterfront, beginning with the development of Quayside. Several local and international firms submitted responses to Waterfront Toronto’s RFP, describing their vision, implementation plan, team strength and experience, and financial and technical capacity. Following a rigorous evaluation process, Waterfront Toronto selected Sidewalk Labs.

•    Establish a complete community that improves quality of life for a diverse population of residents, workers, and visitors.
•    Create a destination for people, companies, startups, and local organizations to advance solutions to the challenges facing cities, such as energy use, housing affordability, and transportation.
•    Make Toronto the global hub of a rising new industry: urban innovation.
•    Serve as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and cities around the world.

Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff, formely CEO and president of Bloomberg LP, said: “We believe that by leveraging technology and combining it with really smart, people-centric urban planning, we could have really dramatic impacts on quality of life, but you need to do it in a place – ideally a place large enough to be a laboratory for an integrated approach to innovation and planning.”