Quayside, Toronto

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The future site of Sidewalk Labs' City of Tomorrow in Toronto, 2020 04 09 (49758660997) (cropped).jpg
Country Canada
Province Ontario
CityToronto Flag.svg Toronto

Quayside is a waterfront district slated for redevelopment in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Formerly dockland and industrial uses, The Waterfront Toronto government agency intends for a new housing development to be built between the East Bayfront and Port Lands neighbourhoods, a site of 4.9 hectares (12 acres) of land. A smart city project was in the planning stages, proposed by Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., named Sidewalk Toronto.[1] Alphabet announced the cancellation of the project on May 7, 2020.[2] Development of the site is now on hold.


The area is bounded by Gardiner Expressway to the north, Bonnycastle Street to the west, Queen's Quay East (from Bonnycastle east up the eastern side of Parliament Street Slip) and east by Victory Soya Mills Silos. While the area east of the Parliament Slip is vacant other than berthing for Toronto Harbour Cruises ships, a number of low rise businesses reside along the north side of Queen's Quay East. The parcels of land included in the project are:

  • Quayside Development Block
  • Parliament Development Lands
  • 333 Lake Shore Boulevard East - former site of the Sunsoy Products Limited linked with the Victory Soya Mills Silos and now parking lot since 1996.[3]

Waterfront Toronto has estimated the value of the land alone at CA$590 million.[4]

Sidewalk Toronto[edit]

The project began as a request for proposal by Waterfront Toronto in March 2017 and made official in October 2017.[5] Sidewalk Labs committed US$50 million and one year's worth of engagement to develop a plan for execution. The two partners formed a third entity, called "Sidewalk Toronto," devoted to bringing the lakeside property to life.[6] The agreement did not give Sidewalk Labs the right to develop land or avoid government approvals.[7]

The project would have encouraged the use of electric vehicles and an onsite power generation station using renewable energy was planned.[8][9]

The project has also attracted significant controversy, particularly relating to the terms of the agreement and also privacy concerns. The contract between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto has been shrouded in secrecy. Board members of Waterfront Toronto, a city, Ontario and federal partnership, had only four days to review the deal to work with Sidewalk Labs for a year on development plans — before signing.[10] Toronto city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the sole city representative on the Waterfront Toronto board, has called for the agreement to be made public beyond the four-page summary that is currently available, stating "I know enough about the agreement that I think you would like to know more about the agreement."[7] He also made a failed motion to make public the Sidewalk Labs contract at a 2017 board meeting.[11] Privacy concerns have also been brought up by numerous experts, who note the incentives for parent company Alphabet to collect personal data from residents and visitors. Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff stated in 2017 that while data sharing isn’t in Sidewalk Labs’s ethos, he couldn't say with definitive certainty what would happen with the information collected in Quayside since it wasn't clear then who would own the data.[12]

On May 7, 2020, Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, announced the Labs would drop plans to build in Toronto.[2][13] He expressed personal regret, and said he had met thousands of Toronto residents excited by the idea, attributing the decision to economic uncertainty and real-estate fluctuations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hume, Christoper. "Christopher Hume's Project of the Year: Google's Quayside". torontostoreys.com.
  2. ^ a b Miller, Mira (May 7, 2020). "Sidewalk Labs abandons ambitious waterfront project in Toronto". BlogTO.
  3. ^ "Waterfront Toronto Takes First Step in Building Quayside: A New Community That Will Provide Testbed for Solutions to Pressing Urban Challenges" (Press release) – via Canada Newswire.
  4. ^ Diamond, Stephen (October 10, 2019). "Open Letter from Waterfront Toronto Board Chair" (Press release). Watefront Toronto. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  5. ^ "quayside". www.waterfrontoronto.ca. Waterfront Toronto. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  6. ^ Bliss, Laura (January 10, 2018). "If Google Were Mayor". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Gray, Jeff (February 23, 2018). "Cracks appear in Sidewalk Labs' Toronto waterfront plan after fanfare". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  8. ^ "The Technology Behind Sidewalk Toronto's Concept Images - Urban Toronto". urbantoronto.ca. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  9. ^ Austen, Ian (December 29, 2017). "City of the Future? Humans, Not Technology, Are the Challenge in Toronto". New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  10. ^ Rider, David (March 5, 2018). "The risks of becoming a Google city". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  11. ^ "Smart communities need smart governance". The Globe and Mail. December 5, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  12. ^ "Despite Google ties, Sidewalk Labs CEO says there's no intent to sell data from Toronto smart city project". GeekWire. November 27, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  13. ^ Rider, David (May 7, 2020). "Sidewalk Labs pulling out of Quayside project". Toronto Star.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°38′49″N 79°21′42″W / 43.646861°N 79.361790°W / 43.646861; -79.361790