A project proposed by Sidewalk Labs is dependent on the many moving parts involved.
Sidewalk Labs’ Chief Executive Officer said last week that it’s “premature” to abandon ideas it had unveiled for a hi-tech community in Toronto, despite the concept being met with fierce criticism.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Daniel Doctoroff indicated his Alphabet-backed company was open to tweaking ideas–including funding a waterfront light rail transit line and underground infrastructure– in exchange for a swath of the waterfront it hopes to develop and call Quayside.
“Inevitably we are going to be adjusting things as we move forward. We have never said it is our way or this doesn’t work for us,” Doctoroff said. “We have adjusted significantly and we will continue to do that.”
Doctoroff claimed that the infrastructure Sidewalk is considering funding “would otherwise be infinanceable,” and added, “If we are prepared to do that when no one else is, we need to get paid back.”
Politicians and prominent business and technology leaders say plans for a hi-tech Toronto community led by Waterfront Toronto and an Alphabet Inc.-backed entity should be scrapped.
They are calling on the project to be revisited after a report leaked last week revealed Sidewalk Labs’ interest in laying claim to developer fees and taxes usually routed to the city in exchange for funding Toronto’s waterfront transit and providing infrastructure to an area hundreds of acres larger than originally proposed.
City councillor Gord Perks said Sidewalk’s pitch to fund transit confirms the public’s “worst fears” about the project and he wants the three levels of government involved in halting the process.
Perks believes that government should consult the public on what they want done with the hundreds of acres of land in question and then move forward by separating what needs to be privately developed from what could benefit from public development.
Longtime Sidewalk Labs critic Bianca Wylie also called for the project to be canceled due to a lack of transparency and concern about the breadth of sectors over which the company seems to want to exert its influence.
Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto told The Canadian Press in emails that whether the project moves forward is up to residents and the government, and that they value feedback and are keen on continuing to seek advice from the public.