Canada's Condominium Magazine

Sidewalk Toronto Update

Sidewalk Toronto’s Public Roundtable was held on March 20th. The community gathered to discuss the ongoing project and its effect on the city and its residents. Those in attendance participated in an open question period, various working group stands, and the roundtable discussions.

Meg Davis of Waterfront Toronto and Rohit T. Aggarwala of Sidewalk Labs presented an update, during which they discussed community concerns and expectations, as well as plans to meet the city’s needs while developing Quayside. During the presentation, they listed the following items as things that concern the community:

  • Well-being and community health
  • People-centred planning
  • Public transit and personal mobility
  • Sustainable, resilient, climate-positive development
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Housing quality and affordability
  • Data-informed decision-making
  • Privacy and data governance
  • Green space, recreation and leisure
  • Engaged communities
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation

Davis and Aggarwala described the goal as “transforming the waterfront for the use and enjoyment of the people and visitors of Toronto, Ontario and Canada, to foster economic growth and to redefine how the city, province and country are perceived by the world – a project of national significance.”

Their vision of the future includes a focus on “sustainability, resilience, affordable housing, transit, building innovation, and economic opportunity.”

“Ideas piloted at Quayside could be brought to scale across the waterfront, replicated in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto – and, ideally, be adopted by cities around the world.”

Davis and Aggarwala went on the describe the qualities they are looking for when searching for partners, as well as Sidewalk Labs’ mission to improve city living. They also listed a set of core principles:

  • Not tech for tech’s sake – “We believe in the power of technology to improve quality of life in cities, but it must drive outcomes.”
  • We respect privacy – “It is embedded into everything we do.
  • We believe in open standards – “Our vision is to have Quayside be a platform for innovation for everyone: governments, researchers, developers, and the general public.”
  • Diversity makes us stronger – “We are committed to diversity and inclusion. Quayside will only work if it represents the population in the Greater Toronto Area.”
  • We cannot do this alone – “This project will only proceed with the support and confidence of our government partners and the public. That’s why we have to do this together.”

During the presentation, they discussed their main objectives, which include diversity and inclusiveness, meeting community needs by tackling challenges they face, making Toronto the global hub for urban innovation, and serving as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and cities around the world. The following were the eight categories included in Sidewalk Labs’ plan to develop of Quayside, as well as ideas they are exploring in order to meet these goals:

  • Sustainability – “We strive for a truly climate-positive community.”
    • Minimize building energy use
    • Maximize use of recoverable waste heat and renewable energy
    • Enable predictable energy costs
    • Improve solid waste diversion
    • Incorporate infrastructure flexibility to enable innovation over time
  • Mobility – “A competitive, safer alternative to the private automobile for every trip.”
    • Support public transit expansion
    • Improve pedestrian and cycling comfort
    • Build AV-ready streets; capture safety benefits for people
    • Optimize the network with real-time data and analysis
    • Create a neighbourhood delivery system
    • Enable the use of AV taxibots and vanbots
  • Public Realm – “A public realm for the entire region that is delightful and vibrant year-round.”
    • More open space so that every resident will be within a 5-minute walk to a park
    • More uses that expand what’s possible for all ages on the waterfront
    • More time spent outdoors to improve public health and social connections
    • More community empowerment by enabling people to program the public realm themselves and build a diverse community in a shared space
  • Buildings – “A built environment that is more usable, efficient, and affordable.”
    • Increase adaptability by creating structures that are more responsive to the needs of its users over time
    • Reduce the cost of construction by leveraging scale through a manufactured approach to buildings
    • Enable sustainability and wellness by building at the highest sustainability standard, which positively impacts the environment, lowers the cost of utilities, and improves occupant well-being.
  • Housing Affordability – “Inclusive, affordable communities for people of all ages, abilities, and means.”
    • Recognize and serve the full spectrum of housing needs in Toronto
    • Leverage dedicated housing funds and activate the private sector to produce more affordable housing
    • Integrate flexible building typologies, new construction technologies, and innovative financing options
    • Incentivize the creation of new affordable units exceeding municipal requirements.
  • Community and City Services – “A close-knit, healthy community with seamless access to vital daily services.”
    • Achieve lower costs, better outcomes, and better experience through coordinated service delivery, personalized solutions, and convenient access
    • Ensure access to convenient, integrated healthcare that addresses the social and environmental determinants of health
    • Use technology to support lifelong learning opportunities, with a focus on education outside the classroom
    • Enable a safe physical and digital environment that protects personal privacy and enables comfort and use
  • Digital Platform – “Open digital infrastructure that inspires innovation.”
    • Ubiquitous connectivity and shared digital hardware, building on Waterfront Toronto’s successful partnership with Beanfield Metroconnect to provide physical and digital infrastructure that makes it easier and cheaper for innovators to try new ideas
    • Digital tools for the physical world, allowing applications to easily access and interpret maps and other open urban data, perform analyses, and manage smart devices
    • Data governance and open architecture, providing policies and tools that allow developers to easily access and share non-personal data
    • A vibrant developer community, harnessing the creativity of third-party application developers by providing well-documented APIs
  • Privacy and Data Governance – “We will set a new standard for transparent, accountable, and responsible data use.”
    • Innovative governance models, such as a data trust
    • New ways to involve the public in decisions about privacy and data use



The second roundtable is scheduled for May 3rd at Daniels Spectrum, where Sidewalk Labs and the community will dive deeper into the topics and ideas explored during the planning period. Additional details will be released to the public as they are known. In the meantime, you can view the roundtable meeting’s live stream below:


First Public Roundtable, March 20, 2018; Credit: Sidewalk Labs – Sidewalk Toronto

Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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