Sidewalk Labs, the subsidiary of the smart city of Alphabet, released on Monday its ambitious plan to transform part of Toronto's waterfront into a high-tech utopia. Eighteen months later, this plan represents 1524 pages and represents the first major effort of the Alphabet to achieve The long-time dream of Alphabet CEO Larry Page from a city to a city to experience innovations such as autonomous cars, public Wi-Fi, new healthcare delivery solutions and other advanced urban planning made possible by modern technology .
Previously, Sidewalk Labs called it "a neighborhood built from the Internet". But on Monday, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff went even further and described it as "the most innovative district in the world."
The original project of Sidewalk Toronto was to create a high-tech community on an essentially vacant 12-acre parcel of industrial waterfront called Quayside, just east of downtown. The plan includes:
- Ten new mixed-use buildings consisting mainly of thousands of new residential units, as well as retail spaces and offices, all made from solid wood
- Proposal to extend the city's tram system to serve the new neighborhood
- Redevelop streets to reduce car use and promote cycling and walking
- Installation of public Wi-Fi, in addition to other sensors to collect "urban data" to better inform housing and traffic decisions, for example
- Proposed reduction of greenhouse gases up to 89%
- Construction of Google's new Canadian headquarters west of Villiers Island
The release of this document marks the kickoff of a long and controversial public oversight process, involving parties such as Waterfront Toronto – the government-appointed non-profit partner of Sidewalk Labs – advisors municipal and city hall staff, the contribution of provincial and federal politicians.
Sidewalk Labs says it will spend $ 1.3 billion on the project in hopes of generating $ 38 billion in private sector investments by 2040. A research firm Third party analyzed the project and discovered that it could potentially create 44,000 jobs and generate an annual tax of $ 4.3 billion. returned
Since his first announcement his plan in 2017Sidewalk Labs has been constantly criticized by both the people of Toronto and opponents of the technology giants' urban profit for the opacity of their projects. This criticism heated earlier this year after The Toronto Star published a report based on disclosed documents revealing to the company great ambitions going beyond 12 acres. The documents revealed that Sidewalk Labs wanted to develop a wider band of 350 acres encompassing the current parcel.
This concept has been incorporated into the Master Plan under the heading "Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration", or District IDEA. But Doctoroff insisted that it was not a land grab by Sidewalk Labs, but a proposal to expand the boundaries of the project only if the local government l & # 39; approved. Even then, Sidewalk Labs would not be the main developer of future projects in IDEA District, I added.
In an open letter released Monday, Waterfront Toronto president Stephen Diamond sought to set himself apart from the master plan, insisting his group "did not create it" but had to approve it. Based on the initial review of his group, there are a number of proposals "in which it is clear that Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs have very different views on the elements necessary for success," writes he in the letter.
Diamond described the expanded IDEA district proposal as "premature" and stressed that major infrastructure projects, such as the extension of the tramway network, would require government commitments that are not yet in place. square. "These proposals raise important implementation issues, and this is not a commitment Waterfront Toronto can take," Diamond said.
At a press conference Monday, Doctoroff sought to mitigate any negative reaction by committing to working closely with the government and community residents on the project. I called it "the natural process of developing a very complex arrangement".