Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs abandons its Toronto smart neighborhood project


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For those who don't know, Quayside was going to be a true neighborhood of the future, complete with buildings made of "mass timber" (a material as strong and fire resistant as steel, but more sustainable), modular rooms and walls, automated public transport, adaptable roads that can use sensors to change their layout, and much more.

All in all, Quayside was intended to be as clean, green, and affordable as possible. Sidewalk Labs hoped their efforts would help Toronto reduce its climate impact while creating new jobs and low-income (but not low-quality) housing options for those that need them.

Unfortunately, we'll never know whether or not Sidewalk Labs could have achieved that vision. Quayside's closure was announced on Medium today by Sidewalk Labs' CEO Daniel Doctoroff.

" unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community," he said in the Medium post. "And so, after a great deal of deliberation, we concluded that it no longer made sense to proceed with the Quayside project, and let Waterfront Toronto know yesterday."

Waterfront Toronto is the organization responsible for revitalizing the Toronto waterfront region, and it originally partnered with Sidewalk Labs to achieve that goal. We haven't spotted an official comment from the organization regarding Sidewalk Labs' withdrawal from the Quayside project yet, but Toronto Mayor John Tory did chime in with the following statement:

Doctoroff made it clear that, while the Quayside project is coming to an end -- at least, in its current form -- Sidewalk Labs as a whole will not be dissolving. The company will continue to pursue other projects that will result in a "meaningful contribution" to the work of "tackling big urban problems."

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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,014   +6,783
An ambitious project to say the least but considering the amount of planning, engineering, and detail work that does NOT require large gatherings to achieve it sounds more like they finally realized the sheer size and complexity of such a project and used the virus as their escape valve. Hope I'm wrong and they bring it up again but only time will tell us, for sure .....

Nobonita Barua

Posts: 61   +63
Heavily doubtful of success of these kinds of projects that requires gigantic amount of planning,engineering,resources.Ongoing pandemic makes it even more difficult. China would have been a better place for this rather than Canada.


Posts: 596   +455
Imagine living in a neighbourhood designed by a company whose entire business model is designed around scraping as much information about you with as little consent as they can get away with...
I wonder also whose tax budget they would use to repair the roads and provide welfare in this neighbourhood - surely not their own?