Alphabet plans to build futuristic neighbourhood

Katrina Barker
October 19, 2017

On Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs - the urban innovation unit of Google parent company Alphabet - announced that it will design a high-tech neighborhood on Toronto's waterfront.

Several months ago, the federal, provincial and municipal governments announced a $1.25 billion flood protection and waterfront revitalization investment in the same area.

Intersection, the Sidewalk Labs subsidiary behind the effort, recently launched similar kiosks in London.

The vision, which the company has laid out extensively in its proposal that it originally submitted to the city, includes plans for new sustainable climate-positive energy systems, community-driven areas with limited access to conventional cars, and construction methods the company says that can decrease housing costs.

The next year will be dedicated to extensive planning and consultations with stakeholders and the surrounding community on how exactly to improve infrastructure like transportation systems, affordable housing, and flexible retail space.

A subsidiary of Alphabet (Google's parent company), Sidewalk Labs was chosen following an global Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in March of this year.

Few specifics of the development were available, but Sidewalk said the area will be a hub for urban innovation built "from the internet up" that will tap into Toronto's tech sector to ultimately "improve the quality of city life".

Still, both the administration of Toronto Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk are optimistic, and look forward to their first meeting with residents to discuss next steps on November 1.

"The reality is that you can produce all these documents [with smart city ideas] - and we tried here and here and here - but the reality is you need an actual city, you need some land", Schmidt said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the development won't just be another technology park.

"Today's announcement is about creating a new type of neighbourhood that puts people first", Prime Minister Trudeau explains. This project offers unprecedented opportunities for Canadian innovators and will create thousands of good, middle class jobs.

San Francisco: Alphabet Inc.'s autonomous vehicle technology will be a big part of its Toronto project to make urban life more Googley. But even if Ontario's capital city fails to land Amazon, it will still have one technological giant calling the city home. Yet our cities rest on the way potential solutions to big urban challenges fit together. If it can complete this goal, it will take 800 acres of underdeveloped land and turn it into a center for new urban development.

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