Introduction to the IDEA District

Sidewalk Labs proposes a vision — beginning with Quayside — designed to realize and maximize ambitious quality-of-life goals by integrating innovations into the physical development.

Sidewalk Labs’ proposal is to transform a small portion of Toronto’s eastern waterfront into an Innovative Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) District that can catalyze tens of thousands of jobs and help tackle the major challenges facing Toronto today.

Phase 1: Quayside

 

To demonstrate the impact of urban innovations on improving quality of life, we plan to start small and work up to larger areas as priority outcomes are achieved. Thus, the first phase of the IDEA District would be Quayside, a five-hectare neighbourhood that sits at the crucial transition point to the eastern waterfront.

Sidewalk Labs proposes to lead this development, working with local partners, and take the risk of proving the viability of the proposed development model.

Phase 2: River District

 

The second phase would be the River District, a 62-hectare area made up of five neighbourhoods surrounding the renaturalized Don River: Villiers West, Villiers East, Keating East, McCleary, and Polson Quay. This scale would allow innovations initiated in Quayside to realize their full impact in a financially feasible way.

In Villiers West, Sidewalk Labs proposes to be the real estate developer, in concert with local development partners, and to play a key role in serving as a catalyst for a new economic cluster focused on urban innovation, anchored by a new Google Canadian headquarters and a new Urban Innovation Institute. Beyond Quayside and Villiers West, Sidewalk Labs proposes to play a different role across the IDEA District, focusing on three supportive areas: planning, design, and implementation; technology support; and optional support financing critical infrastructure.

A public administrator and the three orders of government would determine whether to extend the IDEA District beyond Quayside and Villiers West.

Sidewalk’s 7 urban innovation areas

Sidewalk Labs’ approach to planning centres around providing the physical, digital, and policy conditions for innovation on which an array of third parties — from researchers to entrepreneurs, civic organizations to government agencies — can build and explore new solutions to urban challenges.

 

To catalyze this approach, Sidewalk Labs identified the building blocks of a neighbourhood and explored how urban innovations within these areas could support a new kind of community and infuse flexibility into the built environment. Within each of these areas, the planning team incorporated innovations into the development designs with an eye towards achieving Waterfront Toronto’s priority outcomes and improving quality of life for all. This goal is reflected in the vision statements for each of the urban innovation areas:

Mobility.

A transportation system that reduces the need to own a car by providing safe, convenient, connected, and affordable options for every trip.

Public Realm.

A system of streets, parks, plazas, and open spaces that encourages people to spend more time outdoors, together.

Buildings.

Sustainable buildings that can be constructed and adapted far more quickly and support a lively mix of uses.

Housing.

A program with 40 percent below-market units to improve affordability and expand options for all households.

Sustainability.

A new standard of sustainability that creates a blueprint for truly climate-positive communities.

Social Infrastructure.

Health, civic life, learning, and workforce initiatives and facilities that enable people to thrive.

Digital Innovation.

Catalyze digital innovations that help tackle urban challenges and establish a new standard for the responsible collection and use of data in cities.

Committing to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Sidewalks Labs has approached its planning for the Sidewalk Toronto project with the following key principles in mind.
Diversity.

Sidewalk Labs recognizes and honours the vibrant diversity of Toronto, and strives for a place that reflects Toronto’s values around diversity — one where people of all ages, abilities, incomes, and backgrounds can thrive and belong.

Accessibility.

Sidewalk Labs prioritizes accessibility of place, transportation, services, and opportunities to ensure that Quayside and the IDEA District are physically, socially, economically, and culturally accessible for all, including residents, workers, and visitors. Sidewalk Labs designs spaces, systems, and services for 100 percent of the population, including people who face multiple barriers.

Affordability.

Sidewalk Labs includes options for housing, retail, programming, and amenities that are affordable for people of all income levels, including those who are low income.

Equity of opportunity.

Sidewalk Labs works to identify and remove systemic barriers to participation so everyone can exercise the right to fair and respectful access to economic, social, and cultural opportunities, paving the way for equitable outcomes.

Inclusion.

Designing neighbourhoods that everyone can access means planning for the full spectrum of people’s circumstances: physical, digital, economic, social, or cultural. Quayside and the IDEA District would create the conditions that help create an inclusive community — a group of people who share a sense of belonging, trust, safety, and collective stewardship in a place where everyone feels welcome and has an opportunity to flourish and thrive.

Download the Master Innovation and Development plan.