Sidewalk Labs Announces Smart Neighbourhood: “Quayside”

A smart urban neighbourhood is coming to Toronto.

Alphabet Inc, the owner of Google and Sidewalk Labs, announced today that they will help to develop a section of Toronto’s waterfront, dubbed Quayside.

The announcement came at a press conference attended by Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with key Alphabet and Sidewalk Labs executives.

The new announcement looks to “mix people-centered urban design with cutting-edge technology” according to Waterfront Toronto.

You can check out the Sidewalk Toronto site right here. There are images and visions for what the completed project may look like.

A vision of what Sidewalk Labs' Quayside area may look like.
A vision of what Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside area may look like.

The project will be the largest testing site yet for Sidewalk Labs, a division that designs, tests and builds technologies to develop smart cities. The company won a bid to develop on the 12-acre site, located at the Parliament Slip, and will work with Waterfront Toronto to build out the area.

As part of the announcement, Google Canada will relocate their headquarters to eastern waterfront.

Prime Minister Trudeau described Sidewalk Labs as a strong partner for Toronto, one that believes in Toronto and strives for innovation not only in the city but in the country and the world as well. Trudeau went on to say that the announcement is about promoting and fostering innovation and leading the way forward.

“This announcement will turn Quayside into a hub that will provide the city with innovation and the jobs we will need,” said Trudeau.

Watch the live announcement of the Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs partnership below:

Premier Wynne hit the stage next and expressed thanks to Sidewalk Labs for sharing their vision of a fairer and smarter city. Ontario’s Premier said that many citizens may struggle to keep up with an expanding city, especially in a tech hub like Toronto. Wynne confessed that government cannot be the only solution and that partnerships with a company like Sidewalk Labs are key to creating a fairer city that can harness the talents of its inhabitants.

“Nobody involved in this project wants to just build a new tech park, we have set our sights higher than that,” said Wynne. “Our goal is to build a complete urban community, where there are good opportunities for everyone to work hard and get ahead, and a place where innovation of all kinds can flourish.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory took to the podium next and shouted out Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, saying the exec is as much of a “city guy” as he is a “tech guy,” citing Doctoroff’s work in New York City.

“There’s a lot of talk of people being anxious, but I look and see decision after decision, investment and investment, startup after startup,” said Tory. “I look to Sidewalk Labs and I see this as a time of huge opportunity for Toronto and Canada as a whole.

Tory described a yearlong period of consultation that the city will enter with Sidewalk Labs, saying they know the city will grow, but it is important to detail exactly how the city will grow. This consultation will not just be city-wide, but worldwide.

A community town hall will be held on November 1, where the first steps towards Quayside’s development will be discussed.

“This is the culmination of almost 10 years of thinking about how tech can improve people’s lives,” added Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet.

Schmidt went on to say that Sidewalk Labs’ job will be to create a platform and the neccesary infrastructure, and the company will welcome outside help and different kinds of initiatives from other companies or organizations. 

The entire project will take a few years to unfold, as the first year will be all about consultation then Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs must work together beyond that to iron out an exact plan of action. This is all for Quayside—any kind of revitalization for the 800-acre Port Lands, North America’s largest undeveloped metropolitan area, is a whole other ballpark.