Google Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Toronto, COVID-19 to blame

Chris Burns - May 7, 2020, 3:26pm CDT
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Google Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Toronto, COVID-19 to blame

Just over two years ago, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs announced they’d be attempting to develop a smart future neighborhood in the area known as Quayside, on Toronto’s waterfront. Today it was announced that Sidewalk Labs will no longer be moving forward with the project. The Waterfront Toronto board chair Stephen Diamond released a statement on the subject this afternoon. “Waterfront Toronto has been informed that Sidewalk Labs is withdrawing from our planned redevelopment of Quayside on Toronto’s waterfront.”

In October of 2017, Alphabet first sent Sidewalk to Toronto to build a smart neighborhood. The video you’ll see below shows the basic vision of the project as it existed in the year 2017, at inception.

It would appear that the folks living in and around Waterfront Toronto will not be giving up on the community of Quayside – it’s just Sidewalk Labs that’s leaving the project. “Today is not the end of Quayside, but the first day of its future,” said Andrew Tumilty, Media Relations, Waterfront Toronto. “Waterfront Toronto will continue to seek public and expert input as we make a next generation community at Quayside a reality.

Meanwhile Daniel L. Doctoroff of Sidewalk Labs made abundantly clear that it was global pandemic that made plans for Quayside less-than-viable for the moment. “as unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community,” wrote Doctoroff.

Doctoroff also suggested that the work they’ve done on the project so far “represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability.” Doctoroff added that the current health emergency made the Sidewalk Labs team “feel even more strongly about the importance of reimagining cities for the future.”


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