A New Economic Engine That Drives Outsized, Accelerated Job Growth

Sidewalk Labs’ approach to economic development can help Toronto realize the full potential of the eastern waterfront on a significantly expedited time frame, resulting in more than 44,000 direct jobs (and 93,000 total jobs) stimulated by the IDEA District by 2040, according to an economic analysis conducted by urbanMetrics, a leading Toronto-based firm with extensive experience on the waterfront.

The Sidewalk Toronto project provides a unique opportunity to help meet and exceed government and Waterfront Toronto goals for inclusive growth by generating a new economic engine — one designed specifically to improve quality of life, affordability, and prosperity for residents, workers, and businesses of all sizes. Sidewalk Labs proposes a two-part approach to economic development with the potential to catalyze significant jobs and growth anchored around urban innovation.

Benefits of implementing the vision include:

  • More than 44,000 full-time, permanent jobs (and 93,000 total jobs)
  • Roughly $14.2 billion in annual GDP output beginning in 2040
  • Roughly $4.3 billion in annual tax revenue (federal, provincial, and municipal) by 2040
  • A global hub for urban innovation, anchored by a new Google campus, a new applied-research institute, and a new venture fund for Canadian companies

First, Sidewalk Labs plans to help boost general economic growth by accelerating development across the underutilized areas of the IDEA District.

Realizing the full potential of the IDEA District begins with early delivery of the planned Waterfront Light Rail Transit extension, which would not only better connect the area with the rest of the city but also with other planned development nearby, including commercial development at East Harbour and the planned expansion of the Film District.

As a next step, the relocation of Google’s Canadian headquarters onto Villiers Island as part of a new innovation campus would spark economic activity and draw businesses and talent from around the world. A thoughtful approach to mixed-use development that integrates new innovations to improve sustainability, affordability, and mobility would further attract workers and residents by creating complete communities filled with homes, jobs, shops, community spaces, and parks.

Finally, new affordable housing and workforce development programs help ensure that this approach to prosperity also comes with equity — creating opportunities for Torontonians of all ages, incomes, and abilities. Sidewalk Labs commits to a robust inclusion program, anchored by its affordable housing vision, that includes a construction jobs program for equity-seeking populations.

Second, Sidewalk Labs plans to help catalyze a cluster focused on urban innovation with the potential to spark a new economic engine.

First, this cluster would be designed to build on top of Toronto’s existing innovation ecosystem, including its world-class academic and research institutions and its support from all levels of government, towards promoting related technology industries.

To build on that foundation, Sidewalk Labs would integrate the unique physical, digital, and policy conditions — found nowhere else at scale throughout the world — necessary to help researchers, entrepreneurs, startups, civic organizations, government agencies, and all third parties tackle difficult urban challenges.

Sidewalk Labs plans to further spark this cluster through $10 million invested in seed funding for a new Urban Innovation Institute focused on applied research for urban innovation as well as $10 million invested alongside additional contributions from local partners towards a new venture fund to support local, early-stage enterprises.

The combination of these ingredients would create the conditions for innovation, catalyzing economic activity in Toronto, driving meaningful contributions to the field of urban innovation globally, and drawing innovators from around the world.

The IDEA District’s significant economic impact on GDP, tax revenue, and jobs by 2040

All figures in these charts reflect an economic analysis conducted by urbanMetrics, a leading Toronto-based firm with extensive experience on the waterfront.

Nearly seven times the annual GDP contribution by 2040

In its analysis, urbanMetrics estimates that, by 2040, the IDEA District would contribute nearly seven times the value to Canadian GDP annually than would result from existing proposals for the eastern waterfront. Sidewalk Labs recognizes that there are many factors that could contribute to increased value aside from the unique conditions established in the IDEA District, such as a potential increase in commercial and residential density. The baseline scenario assumed the densities as currently considered in existing planning documents.

Nearly seven times the annual ongoing tax revenue by 2040

The urbanMetrics analysis also estimates that overall annual tax revenues generated throughout the IDEA District would be realized at a magnitude nearly seven times that of the baseline scenario by 2040. Importantly, a fully developed IDEA District would have the capacity to produce this annual benefit across municipal, provincial, and federal jurisdictions.

Nearly seven times as many jobs by 2040

Implementation of Sidewalk Labs’ plans for the IDEA District could realize significantly greater permanent employment opportunities, achieved on a faster timeline, than existing proposals. In its analysis, urbanMetrics estimates that, by 2040, the IDEA District would stimulate more than 93,000 jobs — nearly seven times the number of jobs by 2040 that would be realized under the approach currently envisioned in the Port Lands Planning Framework.

We have made important updates to the Sidewalk Toronto project. Learn more.