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Alphabet is planning an urban utopia for Toronto

Jun 25, 2019, 2:31 am

Alphabet Smart City project by Sidewalk Labs wants to transform the waterfront of the Canadian metropolis Toronto into a high-tech utopia. The plan, published by Sidewalk Labs, spans 1,500 pages, featuring innovations such as self-driving cars, public Wi-Fi, new healthcare solutions, smart curbs, and traffic signals. Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, described the new “City in the City” as the “most innovative district in the world” on Monday.

The startup has worked on the plan for 18 months, engaging with citizen groups who fear for their privacy after the project also works with technology to capture people and activities.

Alphabet Inc unit Sidewalk Labs announced it would spend $1.3 billion on the project, hoping to generate $38 billion in private investment by 2040. An outside research firm analyzed the project, noting that it could potentially contribute to the creation of 44,000 jobs and $4.3 billion in annual taxes.

Since Sidewalk Labs first announced its plan in 2017. The Alphabet smart city plans have been constantly criticized by residents of Toronto as well as by others opposed to urban profiteering by technology giants. This criticism has intensified earlier this year. The Toronto Star published a report based on leaked documents, showing that the company had bigger ambitions than just a 12-acre property. The records indicated that Sidewalk Labs was interested in developing a larger 350-acre swath that included the current package.

Half of the houses are “made to measure” rental housing, with additional affordable housing and middle-income housing. The houses would be mass-produced from an Ontario-based wood mill, in which Sidewalk Labs plans to invest to create 2,500 full-time jobs over a 20-year period.

An extension of the self-financing LRT will be connecting the Greater Toronto Area to the waterfront, a freight logistics center with underground delivery and each building accessible to cyclists is proposed. Light-rail delivery would be accelerated with $400 million in optional credit financing and the payment of advanced infrastructure systems.

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