Waterfront Toronto seeks extension for Sidewalk Labs decision day

Sidewalk Labs 2050

TORONTO - Waterfront Toronto's board will have more time to make a decision on whether to move forward with Sidewalk Lab's proposal to build a smart city.

The agency and Sidewalk have agreed to extend the deadline by which Waterfront Toronto must make a decision about the controversial Quayside project pitched for a swath of Toronto's lakefront to May 20 from March 31.

Waterfront and Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, previously extended the deadline to make a decision on the proposal from Sept. 30, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

Waterfront says the extension would give locals more time to offer input on its evaluation of Sidewalk's proposal.

Sidewalk's proposal involves building a tech-savvy neighbourhood featuring ``raincoats for buildings'', heated and illuminated sidewalks, affordable housing, tall timber structures and innovations to support sustainability and environmentalism.

It has been met with criticism from tech, privacy and business experts across the country over its potential use of data and the demands it could place on the city and government.

Full statement from Waterfront Toronto:

Toronto, ON - Today the Board of Waterfront Toronto agreed to extend the date for a decision on moving forward with the Quayside project from March 31, 2020, until May 20, 2020. This extension is to allow the public more time to offer input into Waterfront Toronto’s evaluation of Sidewalk Lab’s proposals for Quayside.

Since last November, Waterfront Toronto, assisted by local and international subject matter experts, has distilled the over 1,500 pages of Sidewalk Labs’ Master Innovation and Development Plan into 160 solutions and evaluated those solutions for their effectiveness in addressing critical urban challenges faced by growing cities like Toronto. 

The committee overseeing the analysis of the MIDP confirmed that the work done by Waterfront Toronto over the past three months, and many of the innovations proposed by Sidewalk Labs — when considered against the goals and objectives for Quayside — merit consultation with the public as well as further refinement and negotiation with Sidewalk Labs prior to the Board’s decision.

“Today’s extension allows for more time for the public to provide feedback on Waterfront Toronto’s evaluation of Sidewalk Labs’ proposals and for the Board to hear directly from the public on its priorities before any decision to proceed to implementation is taken,” said Board Chair, Stephen Diamond. “This Board will not sacrifice the public good for expediency,” Diamond concluded.

Waterfront Toronto will seek further public feedback at public meetings scheduled for Saturday, February 29, 2020 at the Westin Harbour Castle (1 Harbour Square), and through online consultations. 

Sidewalk Labs statement:

"We welcome the opportunity to continue to work with Waterfront Toronto on building an inclusive, affordable, and sustainable neighbourhood at Quayside. While negotiations are ongoing, we look forward to continued cooperation with Waterfront Toronto and their next phase of public consultation with the public." ​