You’ve probably heard by now that Google spinoff Alphabet Inc.’s spinoff Sidewalk Labs wants to put a “smart city” touch on Toronto’s waterfront.
The vision will be realized through a high-tech development called Quayside, which “leverages some of the world’s best urban design and emerging technology” to create a neighbourhood that “improves quality of life for all.” So says Jesse Shapins, Director of Public Realms at Sidewalk Labs.
Lest you think Quayside is just condos and a few bridges. The project is touted as the first ever mass-timber district in the world, one that will significantly boost the Canadian timber industry. It is expected to create more than 9,000 construction jobs in Ontario, plus almost 4,000 long-term jobs in the area after completion. That adds to the 3,000 tech jobs coming to the area through a collaboration between MaRS and the University of Toronto.
The development is almost entirely residential (97%), with 7% committed to commercial space. Around 40% of residential housing will be offered at below market value, with 20% designated as ‘affordable’. A “series of innovations” will make the project 75-85% greener than other new developments. There will be excellent transit connections, bike lanes, pedestrian-only zones, clean energy sources, innovative waste management systems, and super-accessible everything.
It all sounds great, and looks pretty cool, but the first draft is short on specifics and has already been called out by former Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat for being pretty run-of-the-mill.
Reality check: Sidewalk Labs has laid out a relatively conventional development plan (fine) on waterfront land. But 60% will be *luxury* housing. Toronto, we need to raise our expectations. This is our land. Why are we settling for a little bit better? https://t.co/JGo2eSSPJg
— Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) November 30, 2018
As for how much all this will cost in data, Sidewalk Labs has been expectedly mum on the subject. That’s especially concerning since a company advisor resigned from her position in October because the development couldn’t guarantee a sound privacy protocol.
Question, comments, or concerns? Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs are hosting a roundtable on Saturday, December 8th that invites the public to give feedback on key details outlined in the draft.