Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne were in town to join Mayor John Tory to unveil the new waterfront community, Sidewalk Toronto.
Why is this master-plan such a big deal? It’s a collaboration between Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs. If you’re unfamiliar with Alphabet, it’s Google’s parent company, and they have vowed to make Toronto the “global hub of a rising new industry: urban innovation.”
“There is no better city in the world as a partner for Sidewalk Labs,” said Tory. “We need to harness the talent and ambition of urban technology to help serve the people of Toronto and keep our city affordable, liveable and vibrant. Sidewalk Toronto will help us test new ideas and new solutions to everything from transportation to affordable housing, benefitting our residents and drawing more talent, investment and jobs to our city.”
The high-tech, mixed-use community will begin as Quayside and eventually scale across 800 acres of Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront (one of North America’s largest parcels of underdeveloped urban land.
“This project offers unprecedented opportunities for Canadian innovators and will create thousands of good, middle class jobs,” said Trudeau. “The new technologies that emerge from Quayside have the potential to improve city living - making housing more affordable and public transit more convenient for Canadians and their families. I have no doubt Quayside will become a model for cities around the world and make all of our communities even better places to call home.”
The main objective of Sidewalk Toronto is to create a forward-thinking live, work, play community that’s a destination for tourists, businesses, startups, and local organizations dedicated to using new digital technology to transform our urban lifestyle.
Between Tory and Trudeau, there are a couple mentions of improving affordable housing, and Will Fleissig, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, also mentions that the new community will address “significant challenges” and set “new standards around sustainability, affordable housing and community engagement.”
The RFP response by Sidewalk Labs says "Quayside will pilot innovations that advance this strategy to achieve greater affordability across five different concepts."
Those concepts include new construction methodologies, new building typologies, new regulatory frameworks, new occupancy models, and new financing models.
Will Sidewalk Labs seek a local developer as a partner? We guess we’ll just have to wait and see! But, we seem to be in good hands. If anyone can turn a city into a global hub of urban innovation, it’s Alphabet.