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Waterfront Toronto, Google/Alphabet partner on new waterfront community

Waterfront Toronto, Google/Alphabet partner on new waterfront community
TORONTO—Google’s Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto have announced Sidewalk Toronto, their joint effort to design a mixed-use community on Toronto’s eastern waterfront.

The announcement, issued Oct. 17, said the project will leverage digital technology to create neighbourhoods focused on "sustainability, affordability, mobility and economic opportunity."

The development will become the new Canadian headquarters for Google.

The announcement was made at Corus Quay on the waterfront by Will Fleissig and Dan Doctoroff, CEOs of Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, respectively; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; Toronto Mayor John Tory; and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc., a division of Google.

The statement said Waterfront Toronto had selected Sidewalk Labs from applicants responding to a request for proposals issued in March 2017. The project will involve the creation of a new neighbourhood called Quayside, located at Parliament Slip in Toronto's Port Lands.

Sidewalk Labs has committed US$50 million to an initial phase of joint planning and pilot project testing. The firm has released initial details of its plan at www.sidewalktoronto.ca.

The announcement follows a recent $1.25-billion commitment by federal, provincial and municipal governments to provide flood protection and other Port Lands infrastructure. The 800-acre Port Lands is said to be one of North America's largest areas of underdeveloped urban land.

The statement says the partners will embark on a process of community and stakeholder consultation and long-range planning in the next year, "focused on improving infrastructure and transportation systems, creating new models of affordable housing and flexible retail uses, and establishing clear governance policies related to data protection and privacy."

The process will culminate in a Master Innovation and Development Plan.

The next step is a community town hall to be held Nov. 1.

Features of the new community listed in the statement include housing and workplaces for tens of thousands, "climate-positive energy systems that can deliver a new standard in sustainability" and self-driving transit. Residences will be constructed using new building techniques that can lower housing costs.

"Today, we are expanding our know-how by partnering with Sidewalk Labs to create a progressive, innovative community; one that addresses significant challenges and sets new standards around sustainability, affordable housing and community engagement," said Fleissig in the statement.

"Sidewalk Labs scoured the globe for the perfect place to create a district focused on solutions to these pressing challenges, and we found it on Toronto's eastern waterfront — along with the perfect public-sector partner, Waterfront Toronto," said Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City.

"This will not be a place where we deploy technology for its own sake, but rather one where we use emerging digital tools and the latest in urban design to solve big urban challenges in ways that we hope will inspire cities around the world."

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