The Conversations article on Googles Quayside development withdrawal.


a bit of the articles text, full, article here


It is hard to exaggerate the extent to which the entire Quayside development was not just a mess, but an obvious mess. This was a multi-billion-dollar deal between a land-development agency with no previous experience with foundational smart-city issues like data and intellectual property and a tech company created in 2015, with no track record in urban development.

Read more: Federal leaders should face tough questions about Toronto’s smart-city project

Built on data and secrecy

Smart cities are built on data, yet Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs proved extremely reluctant to even discuss data governance issues almost a year into their partnership. This, even though Sidewalk Labs’ main, if not only, competitive advantage is that it is an affiliate of Google, the world’s pre-eminent data company.

And when it came time to produce a plan, Sidewalk Labs instead delivered an orgy of mandate-exceeding ideas thrown together in a glossy, four-volume, 1,500-page sales brochure.

1 Comment

But it’s important not to give up now on encouraging private-sector investment and innovation (both technological & urban planning innovations). Lessons can and should be learned from this WT/Sidewalk experience, especially given all the goodwill of Toronto citizens giving their own personal time during 3 years of consultations & meetings. (Plus WT has said it spent over $16m of taxpayers’ money on this Sidewalk project alone.)

It’s very difficult to get anything done on Toronto’s waterfront. Believe me, I know first hand. While we have witnessed varied commitment to proper spending of the government’s (ie the taxpayers’) funds on the waterfront, it’s even harder to encourage private-sector investment. At TEDCO, our team had some success in developing a Portlands film studio using a P3 model, plus we built the iconic HQ for Corus Entertainment; as well as a number of small parks & environmental cleanups (we even made past polluters pay!). But each one of those TEDCO projects were very hard to accomplish, were very strictly governed and it took a team approach… and a firm backbone. Post-CoVID there will be even more ideas of what will makes a Healthy and successful city.

Jeffrey Steiner

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: