TORONTO —A proposed 12-acre (five-hectare) high-tech neighbourhood near downtown could be doomed unless transit infrastructure is added to support nearby developments deemed essential to the success of the project.
“At the end of the day, if there is no light rail through the project, then the project is not interesting to us, to be perfectly honest,” said Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, the managing company.
Owned by Google-parent Alphabet Inc., Sidewalk Labs has proposed building the neighbourhood, dubbed Quayside, in an underdeveloped area of the city intended to incorporate autonomous-vehicle infrastructure.
Doctoroff said the goals set by Alphabet and Waterfront Toronto, the government agency charged with overseeing the project, require infrastructure investments to meet them.
Sidewalk Labs has ambitious plans for Toronto’s largely underdeveloped eastern waterfront. The company hopes to develop a so-called “smart neighbourhood” that would showcase new technologies and use that technology to build a greener, more efficient place to live. As Automotive News Canada previously reported, Sidewalk says the project could eventually include autonomous-vehicle infrastructure and could showcase how self-driving vehicles could allow public planners to reimagine how streets are designed.
The Toronto Star newspaper reported in February that Sidewalk was considering paying for some transit and infrastructure costs in a large swath of the city’s waterfront in return for collecting some local property tax revenue and developer fees, an idea that was criticized by some in government and by privacy advocates that have long seen the Quayside plans as being too invasive while granting a private company too much power.