Top Federal Infrastructure Expert John Brodhead Joins Sidewalk Labs

A top governmental infrastructure expert is joining the ambitious Quayside project in Toronto.

John Brodhead has been a chief of staff for the Liberal party since the latest government took over in 2015, working for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi for two years before becoming the chief of staff for Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott. Brodhead has extensive career experience in many forms of government and infrastructure, holding notable roles with the office of the Premier of Ontario as well as for Metrolinx and Evergreen CityWorks.

Brodhead wrote about his new position in a Facebook post.

“Moving back to Toronto will also provide me the opportunity to continue to pursue one of my passions – building inclusive, innovative and sustainable cities,” he wrote. “Following the end of my work here, I will begin a new role with Sidewalk Labs. Working on policy and strategy, I will be engaging with communities and other partners to design and build new solutions to long-held urban problems like congestion, income inequality, housing and sustainability.

Brodhead brings long-term planning experience to his new senior position at Sidewalk Labs as he tries to help the company turn a 12-acre parcel of Toronto’s waterfront lab into a smart neighbourhood. A detailed plan for the project is expected to be released later this year, and he will likely contribute his knowledge to the document.

That long-term infrastructure is evident in plans Brodhead has written, including a plan for the Liberal government called “Crisis & Opportunity: Time for a National Infrastructure Plan for Canada.”

In that report, Brodhead wrote “it should no longer be a question of if we need to devote more resources to public infrastructure or if the federal government should be involved. The question for the Canada at this moment is how the federal government should engage and in what form and capacity,” and outlined a low-interest long-term debt solution to help Canada build national infrastructure.

His plan wanted to touch on “projects such as urban transit and transportation systems, high-speed rail, climate change adaptation, affordable housing and social infrastructure, electricity transmission, and communication systems and rural broadband,” almost all of which are things Sidewalks Labs has made primary objectives when it comes to the Quayside project.

“We could not be more thrilled to have John join the team,” Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff told the Globe and Mail. “We certainly have come to recognize that we need much more local knowledge and advice and experience. We’re very humble about the fact that we are not Torontonians and have a steep learning curve.”

Though the plan of how Sidewalk Labs will roll out their project is expected by the end of 2018, the tech involved in the initiative may begin testing as soon as this summer.