Alphabet & # 39; s Sidewalk Labs unveils its high-tech & # 39; city-within-a-city & # 39; plan for Toronto

Sidewalk Labs, the subsidiary of Alphabet, released its massive plan on Monday to transform part of the waterfront of Toronto into a high-tech utopia. Eighteen months in the making and clocking of 1,524 pages, the plan represents Alphabet's first attempt to realize the long-held dream of Alphabet CEO Larry Page of a city in a city to experiment with innovations such as self-driving cars & # 39; 39; s, public Wi-Fi-Fi, new healthcare solutions and other urban developments that make modern technology possible.


Previously, Sidewalk Labs called it "a neighborhood built from the internet." But on Monday, CEO Dan Doctoroff of Sidewalk Labs went one step further to describe it as "the most innovative neighborhood in the world".

Sidewalk Toronto & # 39; s original pitch was to build a high-tech community on a largely empty 12-hectare industrial waterfront site called Quayside, just east of the city center. The plan includes:

  • Ten new mixed-use buildings, mainly consisting of thousands of new residential units, as well as retail and office spaces, all made of solid wood
  • A proposal to extend the light rail system from the city to the new neighborhood
  • Redesign of streets to reduce car use and promote cycling and walking
  • Installation of public Wi-Fi networks, along with other sensors to & # 39; urban data & # 39; to be collected in order to better inform home and traffic decisions, for example
  • Proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a maximum of 89 percent
  • Build Google's new Canadian headquarters on the western edge of the island of Villiers

The release of the document begins with a certain lengthy and controversial public trial involving parties such as Waterfront Toronto – non-profit organization, project-designated partner – city councilors and city hall staff, along with input from provincial and federal politicians.

Sidewalk Labs says it will spend $ 1.3 billion on the project hoping to generate $ 38 billion in private sector investment by 2040. An external research firm analyzed the project and discovered that it could potentially create 44,000 jobs and generate $ 4.3 billion in annual tax. revenue.

Since the first time it announced its plan in 2017, Sidewalk Labs have been constantly confronted with criticism from both Toronto residents and others who oppose urban usury through technical giants about the opacity of their plans. That criticism heated up earlier this year The Toronto Star published a report based on leaked documents showing that the company had greater ambitions than just a 12-hectare plot. The documents showed that Sidewalk Labs was interested in developing a larger piece of 350 acre that covers the current plot.

That concept made it the master plan, under the name "Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration" district, or IDEA district. But Doctoroff insisted that Sidewalk Labs was not a landlock, but rather a proposal to only extend the limits of the project if the local government approved it. Even then, Sidewalk Labs was not the main developer of future projects in the IDEA district, he added.


In an open letter that was published on Monday, Waterfront Toronto chairman Stephen Diamond tried to distance himself from the master plan and insisted that his group should not co-create it, but be responsible for its approval. Based on the initial assessment of his group, there are a number of proposals "where it is clear that Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs have very different perspectives on what is needed for success," he wrote in the letter.

Diamond criticized the proposal for the expanded IDEA district as "premature" and noted that large infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of the light-rail network, would require commitments from the government that have not yet been introduced. "These proposals bring major implementation problems. They are also not obligations that Waterfront Toronto can make," Diamond said.

In a newsletter Monday, Doctoroff tried to block any reaction by committing himself to working closely with the government and community residents on the project. He called it "the natural process of working out a very complex arrangement."

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