Google and Sidewalk Labs Announces Plans to Build a Futuristic Neighborhood in Toronto

Announced Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs and Google are teaming with Toronto to begin planning a neighborhood designed for urban life in the 21st century. The idea is to create a mixed-use community on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. Per Sidewalk Toronto, they will combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centered neighborhoods that are sustainable, affordable and mobile with economic opportunity.

They are starting with the creation of Quayside located at Parliament Slip southeast of Downtown Toronto. Quayside will have more than 325 hectares (800 acres) that represent one of North America’s largest areas of underdeveloped urban land.

Per CNN, Sidewalk Labs has promised to make the weather more comfortable and believes they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73%, potable water consumption by 65% and landfill waste generation by 90%. Transportation would be prioritized around walking, cycling and shared electric vehicles.

There would be more flexibility in zoning to allow for a blend of land use for residential, commercial and other uses. There will be high-speed communication networks, as well as long-range, low-bandwidth connectivity.

“Why are they including low-bandwidth connectivity for an advanced community?” Apparently low-bandwidth connectivity is critical for placing sensors in public spaces and buildings to report environmental data such as carbon monoxide, noise, vibration and temperature.

Sidewalk Labs Objectives (per their site) for this project Include:

  • Establish a complete community that improves quality of life for a diverse population of residents, workers, and visitors.
  • Create a destination for people, companies, startups, and local organizations to advance solutions to the challenges facing cities, such as energy use, housing affordability, and transportation.
  • Make Toronto the global hub of a rising new industry: urban innovation.
  • Serve as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and cities around the world.

Per Sidewalk Labs, they plan to reduce pollution, commute times and landfill waste to improve the weather. They envisions reducing the impact of wind, increasing shade on sunny days and blocking rain due to smart building design and tree planting.

Also announced on Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs will invest $50 million in an initial phase of planning and pilot testing. Alphabet has agreed to relocate Google‘s headquarters in Canada to the new neighborhood, called Quayside, which is on the Toronto waterfront. Does this mean all Canadians that work for Google need to uproot and move? If not is this an easy commute for the Google employees that has roughly 1,000 employees in Canada?

In Tuesday’s press release it is said that the district will become a place for tens of thousands of people to live, work, learn, and play. The initiative is to create and advance new ideas that improve city life, from climate-positive energy systems that can deliver a new standard in sustainability, to self-driving transit that makes streets safer, to new construction techniques that can lower housing costs.

The question in my head still remains; will Google employees really have to move to Quayside? There is no mention of that in the official press release from Tuesday. Hopefully not, moving is a huge expense unless Google is paying for their moves which seems not likely.

For more information about the Sidewalk Labs Toronto project click here for the official press release.


Source: Sidewalk Labs Press Release, Sidewalk Labs, CNN, Google