Toronto

Waterfront Toronto board votes to keep Sidewalk Labs' Quayside project alive

Waterfront Toronto's board voted unanimously Thursday to move ahead into an evaluation phase of Sidewalk Labs' proposed Quayside development  — a so-called "smart city" that would be built on the shore of Lake Ontario in the city's east end.

Google sister company's proposal has previously been criticized for lack of detail, privacy concerns

Sidewalk Labs wants to build a smart city in the east end of Toronto's downtown. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Waterfront Toronto's board voted unanimously Thursday to move ahead into an evaluation phase of Sidewalk Labs' proposed Quayside development  — a so-called "smart city" that would be built on the shore of Lake Ontario in the city's east end.

The two sides had set an Oct. 31 deadline to resolve issues including the project's scale, public transit commitments, developer selection, and privacy and data issues before going further in the process.

With approval of the terms, Sidewalk's proposal will move to a formal evaluation and further public consultations with a final vote on whether to approve the project set for March 31.

Sidewalk Labs has agreed to realign the size of the development to a 4.8-hectare site, rather than the 77-hectare site it proposed in June, which would have incorporated the Port Lands which are already being redeveloped.

The Google sister company had also wanted Waterfront Toronto to publicly commit to fund and deliver the Waterfront LRT before moving ahead with the construction of Quayside.

But Waterfront Toronto, as a tri-government agency, does not have jurisdiction over public transit funding allocation and therefore no promise of the transit project's delivery is included in the agreement between the two sides.

Sidewalk Labs has also dropped its plan for an urban data trust and instead will adhere to existing laws and store all public data collected in Quayside in Canada. 

Further, Waterfront will lead a competitive bid for vertical development teams for the project, rather than Sidewalk.

Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement welcoming news of the vote result.

"We all know that we must develop our waterfront in the right way — that's why we are moving through this process so carefully," Tory said.

"I believe this process has led to an exciting proposal for Quayside that has the potential to create new jobs and economic development opportunities, a carbon-neutral neighbourhood, and more affordable housing units. It is a real opportunity for Toronto."

The Port Lands area seen from Cherry Street, where Sidewalk Labs wants to build its Quayside neighbourhood. (Andrew Lahodynskyj/The Canadian Press)

With files from The Canadian Press

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