More than two and a half years ago, Google spinoff Sidewalk Labs announced an ambitious development project on Toronto’s waterfront.
The “smart city” neighbourhood would be a beacon of modern, sustainable urban planning. It would bring 9,000 construction jobs, plus 4,000 permanent positions. It was cloaked in all the promise you’d expect from Silicon Valley. Quayside, as it was called, would “improve quality of life for all.”
And now it’s dead, having improved life for no one.
Quayside struggled to win over Torontonians as details of the project emerged over the years. Citizens even staged protests to block its inception. After enduring criticism from pretty much everyone, including former Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Sidewalk Labs finally found an out in the pandemic.
“As unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community,” said Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel L. Doctoroff.
Many on Twitter celebrated the announcement.
Toronto Mayor John Tory expressed his regrets, Waterfront Toronto Board Chair Stephen Diamond said “it was not the outcome we had hoped for,” and now the search begins again for something, literally anything, to be built in what remains a wasteland in prime real estate.
Here‘s a start.