Over 100 Torontonians concerned about Sidewalk Labs send Open Letter to Waterfront Toronto

Image credit: Michele Champagne

100+ Toronto-area organizations, residents concerned about Sidewalk Labs deliver letter to Waterfront Toronto Board, Management.

Yesterday, over 100 Toronto-area residents sent a letter regarding the proposed Sidewalk Labs development to Waterfront Toronto.  Initiated by #BlockSidewalk, the letter quickly snowballed to include a wide range of signatories, including tech workers, architects and artists; academics, labour organizers and entrepreneurs; residents engaged on transit, climate justice, decent work, human rights and equitable development; and residents who live and work on the waterfront and across the city. 

The letter asks Waterfront Toronto to commit to full public disclosure in its ongoing dealings with Sidewalk Labs, as the closed-door negotiations leave basic questions - including how much publicly-owned land is involved in the deal - unanswered. Unlike the pro-Sidewalk Labs letter signed by "30 civic leaders" in July, signatories have had the chance to digest the proposals contained in Sidewalk Labs' 1500+ page proposal, and the extent to which they far exceed the terms of Waterfront Toronto's RFP for the 12-acre Quayside site.

If you wish to add your name before the final copy of the letter is delivered on Thursday, please send your name and preferred affiliation and a request to "add my name to the 10/28/19 Open Civic letter to Waterfront Toronto" to [email protected]



Come witness Waterfront Toronto's October 31st Board meeting - the day the board decides whether to continue to evaluate the proposed Sidewalk Labs test bed on the waterfront. The Board is scheduled to meet 9 AM - 11 AM at 20 Bay Street, 13th Floor, following an 8:30 AM meeting of the Quayside Committee. #BlockSidewalk supporters will be in attendance for the opening and closing of the meeting - the portions open to the public. Please email [email protected] to RSVP if you are able to make it.

Acorn Canada members delegate Waterfront Toronto

Image credit: Acorn Canada

Last Thursday, several members of Acorn delivered letters to Waterfront Toronto's office signed by over 100 members expressing concern over the Sidewalk Labs proposal.  Accompanied by #BlockSidewalk supporters and members of Good Jobs for All, the group was able to meet with Waterfront Toronto's Board chair Steve Diamond and CEO George Zegarac, as well as several senior staff.  Mr. Diamond assured participants that the agency will publicly disclose "where we're at with Sidewalk Labs," either after the October 31 board meeting or on the following day.  He did confirm that the geographical scale/scope of the project was part of the discussion with the company.

Indigenous leaders deliver scathing criticism of Sidewalk Labs' proposal, Indigenous Consultation process.

As first reported in The Logic, a group of Indigenous leaders released an open letter to Waterfront Toronto letter last Friday, "demanding Waterfront Toronto “reevaluate its relationship” with Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs over what the letter calls a “manipulation of the public consultation process” and “blatant insincerity” in the company’s approach to Indigenous consultation on the planned smart-city development of Toronto’s eastern waterfront."  The letter was "written by Elder Duke Redbird, a Toronto-based Indigenous artist, educator, poet and activist, and Calvin Brook, co-founder at architecture and Indigenous design studio BrookMcIlroy."  The letter outlines a series of recommendations for the proposal - most of which, the signatories allege, were ignored.

New ideas for the city's future

Earlier today, a group of technologists, urbanists and community activists released a "collection of ideas to help build on and continue" questions about the future of cities, data governance and innovation raised by the Sidewalk Labs proposal. Several #BlockSidewalk supporters have contributed imaginative alternatives to Sidewalk Labs private, for-profit test bed. Read them here: https://www.some-thoughts.org.

If you have initiatives you'd like us to share, let us know: blocksidewalk.ca/contact


Amanda Roth, "Sidewalk Labs criticized over "blatant insincerity" of Indigenous consultation process," The Logic, October 25, 2019.

May Warren, "Indigenous Elder slams 'hollow and tokenistic' consultation by Sidewalk Labs," Toronto Star, October 25, 20129.

Jason Miller, "Letter urges Waterfront Toronto to be transparent in dealings with Sidewalk Labs," Toronto Star, October 28, 2019.

Catherine McIntyre, "Toronto residents sign open letter urging Waterfront Toronto for transparency in the final days of negotiations with Sidewalk Labs," The Logic, October 28, 2019.

Jennifer Elias, "Google parent company Alphabet held a secret 'logistics summit,' last week with from FedEx and other shipping companies," October 28, 2019.

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