Waterfront Toronto, say NO to a business deal with Google/Sidewalk.

By joining our campaign you are supporting our call on Waterfront Toronto to say NO to a business deal with Google/Sidewalk. Here's the letter we are sending the board soon.

May 2019
Dear Waterfront Toronto Board:
 
Stephen Diamond (Chair)
Councillor Joe Cressy
Mohamed Dhanani 
Susie Henderson
Andrew MacLeod
Mazyar Mortazavi
Sevaun Palvetzian
Janet Rieksts-Alderman 
Patrick Sheils
Jeanhy Shim
Kevin Sullivan
Christopher Voutsinas
 
Thank you for all of your hard work to date to support the best in urban innovation, integrated economic development, and environmental stewardship. On the heels of Waterfront Toronto's long and successful history of global leadership in these areas, the Quayside project started back in October 2017.  Much has been learned in the last year and a half, some of which can be applied to future urban development projects. But after eighteen months, we, the supporters of the #BlockSidewalk campaign, are writing with a request:
 
Receive the Master Innovation and Development Plan and say NO to doing business with Sidewalk Labs, immediately.
 
Sidewalk Labs' thousand-page Master Innovation and Development Plan will be full of interesting ideas. #BlockSidewalk is not suggesting that you don't move forward with good ideas, of course, particularly in the areas of affordable housing, new building materials, new street design, and more. But we are suggesting that you move forward with those ideas with other investors and vendors - both international and local - best in class.  Infrastructure financing included. And this time, we ask that procurement, planning and consultation stay firmly in public hands.
 
Not the right partner, not the right circumstances.
 
There is a dangerous conflation happening with the Quayside project. Presented as “urban planning,” Sidewalk Labs has been using its contract to develop a plan for Quayside to weaken, subvert and influence democratic decision-making about the future of the waterfront. The confusion about who is (and who should be) doing what (a company competing for a public contract vs a government agency) has opened the door to a tech company exercising its specialty - legal and regulatory entrepreneurship – and calling it urban planning. Instead of simply developing an urban plan, Sidewalk Labs has been busy figuring out how to best exploit Toronto’s policy and legal vacuum to its own advantage. Where there aren’t yet rules to follow, tech companies do what they like, creating social norms and standards that serve their company’s bottom line and undermine people’s rights; engage in social engineering masquerading as “innovation;” and pit the public against the government, which has to answer to all Canadians, not a defined set of shareholders, by promising huge societal benefits that governments have yet to deliver, while hiding the many harmful strings attached behind non-disclosure agreements and impenetrable computer code.
 
To respect and support democracy, say no to Sidewalk Labs now.  Demonstrate global leadership in 2019.  You have a chance to assert confidence in the role of government, technological sovereignty, and our right to the city. Take it.
#BlockSidewalk
Illustration by: Emmie Tsumura

 

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