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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to turn Toronto area into a model smart city

Larry Page’s “city of the future” has found its first home in Toronto.

Now an unassuming piece of low-slung industrial land, Waterfront Toronto outlined a vision for a residential and commercial development that is “climate positive” – meaning its carbon emissions clock in at less than zero – with 20 per cent of new housing units designated as affordable.

Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt made the announcement alongside Dan Doctoroff, chief executive of Sidewalk Labs.

New-York based Sidewalk will dedicate $50 million to planning the project, dubbed “Sidewalk Toronto”.

Google will kick things off by relocating its Canadian HQ, and around 300 employees to its new anchor office in the district, and infrastructure to prevent flooding and other necessary structural elements to the region, including roadwork, will be funded by $1.25 billion in committed funds from city, province and federal sources.

At the time, reports indicated Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc., had thrown its hat into the ring. The project will aim to create new models of affordable housing and flexible retail, according to the statement.

The campus will be located in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront district.

Earlier this year, Waterfront Toronto, a public corporation created by Canadian officials in 2001 to revitalize land along Lake Ontario, requested proposals to develop a new community called Quayside along with a private partner.

Waterfront Toronto says the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) site will be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide”. “Sidewalk Toronto will transform Quayside into a thriving hub for innovation and a community for tens of thousands of people to live, work, and play”.

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