Sidewalk Labs unveils plans for Toronto

Google's urban developer unveils plans for $1.3bn smart development on Toronto waterfront

The Sidewalk Toronto project aims to create a smart and sustainable district for the city.
Sidewalk Labs
The Sidewalk Toronto project aims to create a smart and sustainable district for the city.

Sidewalk Labs, Google’ urban design lab, has unveiled plans for its Sidewalk Toronto project, a mixed-used development which will include Google’s new Canadian HQ.

The company plans to spend $1.3bn on the project, to develop 12 acres of waterfront in Toronto.

The project includes mixed use buildings, with residential, office and retail buildings.

Sidewalk plans to use mass timber, a type of heavy duty plywood which is better for the environment than concrete or steel, and factory-based construction techniques to make construction easier. Sidewalk and local partners plan to invest up to $80 million in a mass timber factory in Ontario to support the development.

Forty-percent of the housing in the project will be made available below market rates.

The project will also make extensive use of public Wi-Fi and sensors to gather data on many aspects of the functioning of the district.

To manage the data, Sidewalk is proposing the creation of an independent, government-sanctioned Urban Data Trust that would oversee all collection and use of data from the physical environment, as well as applying all Canadian data protection laws.

The plans also include a focus on bikes and walking, and plans to extend Toronto’s light rail system to serve the neighbourhood. Seventy-three percent of project trips in Quayside, and 77% of trips at the full scale of the IDEA District, would be made using public transit, walking, or cycling.

Sidewalk Labs said that the district will create 44000 direct jobs, generate $14.2bn economic impact per year by 2040, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 89%.

Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, said: “This proposal aims to do something extraordinary on Toronto’s eastern waterfront: create the neighbourhood of the future in the right kind of way, with people at its centre, and with cutting edge-technology and forward-thinking urban design combining to achieve ambitious improvements in the urban environment and in the way we all live. Waterfront Toronto set a high bar for what it hopes to achieve with this project, and we believe we can meet it. If, together, we can shorten commute times for hard-working households, make housing more affordable, and create a new standard for a healthier planet, then the world will take notice.”

“Our approach is inspired by Toronto’s deep commitment to inclusivity. We are not interested in creating a corporate campus or a gated community, but rather a diverse neighbourhood that embraces the complexity and serendipity that makes cities great. Our plan puts the public sector in the driver’s seat in a way that stands in contrast to the clashes between other startups and city governments. Sidewalk aims to partner with government in order to create the conditions for real estate developers, civic organizations, tech companies, and residents, workers, and visitors to build a great community in the decades to come. We look forward to Waterfront Toronto’s consultation and evaluation process, which we hope will lead to the implementation of this plan.”

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