The corporation tasked with leading the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront has unanimously approved of an agreement with Alphabet urban development wing Sidewalks Labs to create a high-tech community dubbed ‘Quayside.’
According to a collection of tweets published on July 31st, 2018, Waterfront Toronto’s board of directors has approved of a Plan Development Agreement (PDA) with Sidewalk Labs that would address “many critical urban issues faced by Toronto and other cities around the world.”
Waterfront Toronto hasn’t released the PDA document yet, but the corporation said that the public would be able to review the agreement once it has been signed by both Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs.
Our Board has approved an agreement with Sidewalk Labs to create an innovative plan focused on Quayside, a new community being imagined on Toronto’s waterfront.1/3
— Waterfront Toronto (@WaterfrontTO) July 31, 2018
Sidewalk Labs’s head of development Josh Sirefman told MobileSyrup via email that the agreement was based on months of discussion between both Sidewalk and Waterfront.
“This agreement, passed unanimously today, lays out a path towards a transparent, collaborative partnership with Waterfront Toronto and the people of Toronto,” said Sirefman.
“We look forward to working together to develop a groundbreaking plan to improve the lives of people living in Toronto and cities like it around the world.”
It’s important to note that though the board voted unanimously on approving the PDA, that was only possible after Toronto developer Julie Di Lorenzo resigned on July 30th, 2018.
MobileSyrup has reached out to Waterfront Toronto for comment. This story will be updated with a response.
Developing Toronto’s waterfront
Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto publicly confirmed their partnership in October 2017, when the Alphabet subsidiary announced that it would invest an initial $50 million USD to a phase of “joint planning and pilot project testing.”
The announcement was attended by City of Toronto mayor John Tory, former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as a number of U.S. business leaders, including Alphabet CEO and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Since then, Sidewalk Labs has held two public roundtables, as well as a Reddit AMA to discuss the company’s plans for the Quayside neighbourhood.
Sidewalk Labs head of urban development Rohit Aggarwala also spoke with MobileSyrup to discuss his company’s plans for Toronto’s waterfront, expressing the belief that Quayside should be treated like a modular platform capable of continuous improvement.
While many Torontonians have expressed support for Sidewalk Labs, a number of critics — including former Ontario information and privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian — have raised concerns about the data governance policies that Sidewalk Labs plans on implementing.
Data privacy was a subject of concern at both the first and second public roundtables.
Sidewalk Labs released its Responsible Data Use Policy Framework in May 2018.
Update 31/07/2018 5:18pm ET: Story has been updated with additional reporting.