A major strategic partnership was announced this Tuesday, October 17 between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs – a division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company – which focuses on urban innovation and digitally-focused communities.

Through this partnership, Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto will work together on the project (dubbed Sidewalk Toronto) to plan and develop Quayside, a new neighbourhood spanning 12 acres on the Eastern Waterfront. Upon completion of the Quayside development, there are plans to scale the project and continue developing across all 800 acres of the Eastern Waterfront.

What will make this new Quayside neighbourhood so unique? According to its website, Sidewalk Labs is “pursuing a large-scale district that can serve as a living laboratory for urban technology – a testbed for coordinated solutions, a foundation for people to build on, and a vision for other cities to follow.” In simpler terms, Quayside (and eventually the rest of the Eastern Waterfront) will be a “smart city” made up of:

  • Modular buildings with units developed offsite to cut on construction time and cost, thereby decreasing the cost of rent or ownership of these units
  • Flexible buildings that allow for both residential and commercial uses and are set up to support “ongoing and frequent changes”
  • Pedestrian-friendly streets with limited car usage
  • Built-in digital tools to detect traffic and weather patterns, as well as noise and air quality, all to be used as research for bettering the experience of the Quayside resident or visitor
  • An automated, underground garbage and recycling system

The goal is to create a technologically-advanced urban mini-city, showcasing the value and sustainability Sidewalk Labs can bring to not only the Toronto Waterfront, but to the rest of the city. Sidewalk Toronto will serve as a case study for other major cities around the world to accept technology as a key in infrastructure development and urban growth.

Google also plans on moving its Canadian Headquarters to the development area, and with a focus from Sidewalk Labs on collaboration with local professionals, this project should bring more attention to Toronto’s technology experts.

The partnership between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto begins now with a year-long planning process to nail down the specifics of the Quayside development and line up the rest of the Eastern Waterfront for future expansion. We look forward to learning more about this exciting venture and seeing first-hand how Toronto will benefit from a new smart neighbourhood.