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Read some Frequently Asked Questions about the Sidewalk Toronto project, or submit your own at the bottom of the page.

What is the “Master Innovation and Development Plan”?

Toronto’s eastern waterfront presents Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto, the governments of Ontario and Canada, and the people of Toronto with an extraordinary opportunity to shape the city’s future and provide a global model for inclusive urban growth. The three-volume Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) is a comprehensive proposal for how to realize that potential. Sidewalk Labs submits the MIDP for consideration as a work-in-progress meant to be refined by further consultation.

Why is Sidewalk Labs submitting this plan?

In March 2017, Waterfront Toronto released a Request for Proposals (RFP) that RFP sought, among other things, to establish "a globally-significant community" along the eastern waterfront to "showcase advanced technologies, building materials, sustainable practices and innovative business models that demonstrate pragmatic solutions toward climate positive urban development.” Sidewalk Labs participated in that RFP process and was selected by Waterfront Toronto as its Innovation and Funding Partner, which earned Sidewalk Labs the right to develop the Draft MIDP, at its own expense, for consideration by Waterfront Toronto and governments.

Is this plan final?

Not at all. The submission of this MIDP is not the end of the process — far from it. Waterfront Toronto must evaluate and approve the whole plan, and before any individual components could be implemented, they would be subject to relevant municipal, provincial, and federal approvals. Should all parties agree to move the MIDP forward, there would be a series of additional agreements, and public consultations would continue, of course.

What happens next if the plan is approved?

To proceed, the project requires the agreement of Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, as well as approvals from the City of Toronto and other levels of government. If the plan at a high level is approved by Waterfront Toronto and City Council, the parties would move towards implementation agreements and continue consultation with stakeholders. The implementation of any plan components may also require additional studies, consultations, and approvals.

Does this plan reflect public feedback?

Lots! The Draft MIDP reflects 18 months of public consultation that reached more than 21,000 Torontonians in person (including more than 11,000 visitors to Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto-based workshop, 307) during a robust public engagement program. Project members also held hundreds of one-on-one or small group meetings — including concerted outreach to the business, academic, nonprofit, and institutional sectors — and engaged extensively with Waterfront Toronto and public officials at all three levels of government. And the process won’t end there. Visit the Participate page to learn about upcoming programs.

Will there be further consultation?

Absolutely. The City of Toronto has planned a consultation process around parts of the MIDP, and Waterfront Toronto will conduct further consultation as required.

What agreements do Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto have in place?

The planning work that led to the MIDP has been guided by a Plan Development Agreement, signed by Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs in July 2018, which established a partnership roadmap for the planning process. The full PDA is available for review on the Documents page of this website, along with many other documents, including the original RFP, the Sidewalk Labs response, and all public consultation documents.

Are the architectural drawings in this plan real?

The architectural work and illustrations found throughout the MIDP do not reflect final planning or engineering decisions, but rather have been included to demonstrate the feasibility of Sidewalk Labs’ proposal, as well as to give a sense of what Quayside, the River District, and other neighbourhoods that adopt this approach to innovative development might feel like.

What is Sidewalk Labs’ role?

As described in detail in Volume 3 of the MIDP, Sidewalk Labs proposes to focus on core areas it is uniquely suited to achieve and that the market or government are not able to pursue on their own, including:

  • The development of real estate alongside local partners only on a limited basis to ensure key programmatic elements needed to achieve quality-of-life objectives and prove to the market that certain strategies are viable; as well as the development of advanced systems across the IDEA District.
  • An advisory role around innovation planning, design, and implementation
  • Limited deployment of core technologies necessary to achieve quality-of-life objectives that are not available in the market today
  • Optional financing of core infrastructure that may not be possible through traditional funding processes

What is Google’s role in this project?

Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company, and thus a sibling company to Google. While Sidewalk Labs occasionally works with teams at Google (as well as other Alphabet companies) to develop ideas, they operate independently. Sidewalk Labs does not share urban data, user data, or personal data with Google, and has its own separate business model. For the Sidewalk Toronto project, Alphabet commits to establishing a new Canadian headquarters for Google at Villiers West, as part of an agreed-upon transaction within the IDEA District. Alphabet would target up to 500,000 square feet, sufficient to accommodate as many as 2,500 jobs, the majority of which would be for Google employees (though actual hiring will depend on market conditions and business requirements).

Does Sidewalk Labs plan to sell personal information?

No. Sidewalk Labs has committed that it would not sell personal information to third parties or use it for advertising purposes. It also commits to not disclose personal information to third parties, including other Alphabet companies, without explicit consent. Finally, Sidewalk Labs has proposed that an independent, government-sanctioned entity approve proposed collections and uses of urban data — information gathered in the city’s physical environment — in the project area by all parties, including Sidewalk Labs.

Where can I find information on Sidewalk Labs’ business model?

Sidewalk Labs is a for-profit company whose business model includes the development of vertical real estate, the financing of large-scale advanced infrastructure (through a new vehicle called Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners), and the development of urban innovations that can be adopted by cities around the world. To ensure that the public sector shares in the benefits of technologies made possible by this project, Sidewalk Labs also proposes that, for certain technologies deployed in the IDEA District, the public sector receive a share of the revenue following the sale of the technology elsewhere.

For more on Sidewalk Labs’ business model and proposed financial terms, see Volume 3 (summarized at the Partnerships page).

Who owns the land in the eastern waterfront?

The majority of the land in the eastern waterfront is owned by the City of Toronto. Some areas are owned by other government agencies, such as Ports Toronto, and approximately 15 percent of the land is owned by private parties.

Does Sidewalk Labs want to develop the entire eastern waterfront?

No. Sidewalk Labs’ proposal focuses on a 77-hectare area called the IDEA District, consisting of Quayside and the River District. Altogether, this area makes up less than a third of the eastern waterfront.

To prove out its approach to innovation and catalyze economic development, Sidewalk Labs is only seeking development rights (to be executed with local partners) in Quayside and on the western edge of Villiers Island — or roughly 7 percent of the eastern waterfront in total.

All other real estate development on publicly held lands would be undertaken by other parties, after a public RFP process managed by Waterfront Toronto.

How will vendors be chosen to build parts of the plan?

Whenever possible, Sidewalk Labs intends to buy or partner with existing vendors to achieve core aspects of its vision, only resorting to building its own technology components when the market does not provide them or does not currently achieve them to a standard that will meet project objectives.

Excluding Sidewalk Labs’ proposal to deliver the real estate (with local partners) in Quayside and Villiers West, all other real estate developers chosen to deliver on the project vision would be selected through a public RFP process managed by Waterfront Toronto.

Does this plan supersede the existing precinct plans or waterfront planning frameworks?

No. Depending on what is approved from the MIDP, certain existing plans or frameworks might need to be formally adjusted through existing city approval processes. The Sidewalk Toronto project team has worked to build on the core elements of those plans and frameworks and achieve the spirit of their intent.

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