News / Toronto

Google firm wins competition to build high-tech neighbourhood in Toronto

Once officially confirmed, Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, will construct the neighbourhood on the east downtown waterfront.

Google's Sidewalk Labs is the preferred partner to build a high-tech neighbourhood in Toronto's east downtown waterfront.

AFP / Getty Images

Google's Sidewalk Labs is the preferred partner to build a high-tech neighbourhood in Toronto's east downtown waterfront.

Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, is officially confirmed to have won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood called Quayside on the east downtown waterfront.

Waterfront Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk Lab officials are making the announcement at Corus Quay today.

The board of Waterfront Toronto, the federal-provincial-city agency overseeing the so-called Quayside project, is expected to vote at an Oct. 20 meeting whether to confirm the agency’s staff recommendation arising from a rigorous competitive bid process launched in May.

If confirmed by Waterfront Toronto’s board, the choice of a firm owned by Google holding company Alphabet Inc. would be a big high-tech feather in the cap of the city currently chasing the second headquarters of Amazon and other innovation opportunities.

Quayside is envisioned by the agency as a testbed for cutting-edge technology as well as a bustling, functioning neighbourhood, with homes, offices, retail and cultural space, near Queens Quay E. and Parliament St.

Sidewalk Labs is Alphabet’s urban innovation unit, with a stated goal of “reimagining cities from the Internet up.”

Dan Doctoroff, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, told a conference in New York City last May that his company was “looking into developing a large-scale district” to act as its smart city test bed.

The community would be universally connected by broadband and could have, Doctoroff said, prefab modular housing, sensors to constantly monitor building performance, and robotic delivery services to cut residential storage space, The Architects’ Newspaper reported in May.

Improving transportation would be a focus, possibly with self-driving cars and design to encourage biking and walking, he told the conference. World-leading environmental sustainability could include thermal exchange systems to capture wasted building heat, and smart sensors to limit energy use.

Waterfront Toronto says the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) site will be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide.”

The agency said the winning bidder must propose plans to foster sustainability, resiliency and urban innovation; complete communities with a range of housing types for families of all sizes and income levels; economic development and prosperity driving innovation that will be rolled out to the rest of the world; and partnership and investment ensuring a solid financial foundation that secures revenue and manages financial risk.

Development of the three publicly owned blocks at the east end of Queens Quay will eventually include redesign and reconstruction of the intersection of Queens Quay and Parliament St.

Toronto tech leaders at a Smart Cities event in Toronto last May said the city is on the cusp of a tech boom, noting talk of Google interest in the city and Uber’s decision to make Toronto a hub for driverless car research.

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