Google’s Smart-City on Toronto’s Waterfront

Sidewalk Labs, the part of Alphabet focused on cities and urban development, has unveiled its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) for a proposed smart neighborhood on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront.

The company is currently proposing two smart neighborhoods — Quayside and Villiers West — that will exist inside a broader area called the Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) district. Quayside would be the first part of the project and house 4,200 residents. The company is then proposing a partial redevelopment of Villiers Island, called Villiers West, that would house a 1.5 million square foot innovation campus. Google would build a new headquarters on this land and an applied research institute for urban innovation, “anchored by local institutions.” Villiers West would house 2,700 residents and offer 7,400 jobs.

Sidewalk Labs wants to use timber to construct most of the buildings inside the Eastern Waterfront. The materials would be sourced from a new factory in Ontario that would, according to the company, create roughly 2,500 manufacturing jobs. The final structures would offer adaptable “Loft” spaces with floor plates that can serve both residential and commercial tenants. They would have also have “flexible wall panels” to accelerate renovations and reduce vacancies. Crucially, the company is promising “an ambitious below-market housing program” that would include 20 percent affordable housing and 20 percent middle-income housing units.
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