Public consultations reveal serious concerns about Google/Sidewalk













Draft summaries from Waterfront Toronto's July consultations were released last week, and we were encouraged to see the large number and wide range of concerns over Sidewalk Labs' proposals expressed there.*

A common thread runs through the draft reports from almost every single breakout group and plenary session: a lack of trust in Sidewalk/Google, and concerns over the company's track record, its intentions, its immense influence/power and its behaviour in Toronto.  We concur.  

*We've heard from many of you that  the public consultations on Sidewalk Labs' Master Plan (MIDP) were not accessible or difficult to engage with.  We will continue to flag other ways to learn about and respond to Sidewalk Labs' plans (official consultations and community initiatives alike) through these channels.


Get ready for an action-packed fall.

A few weeks ago, Waterfront Toronto announced it would terminate its partnership with Sidewalk Labs/Google on October 31st if the company did not meet a few key conditions.  This is a significant development. 


Waterfront Toronto is a tri-government agency tasked with developing Toronto’s waterfront in the public interest.  The lack of public trust in the agency's "innovation partner" on display at public consultations is paralleled by Waterfront Toronto's increasingly strained relationship with Sidewalk Labs/Google.

Rather than moving forward into a long term relationship with this actor, #BlockSidewalk calls on Waterfront Toronto and its sponsors to terminate this controversial partnership and start over, placing the redevelopment of Quayside back under public control and moving forward with the interests and needs of Torontonians at heart.

Over the next 8-10 weeks, it is time for both individuals and organizations to make concerns with this project (and actor) loud and visible.  We will keep you posted about opportunities to do so through this newsletter and our other channels.  Right now:

1) If you're a member of an organization, please consider supporting our call to #BlockSidewalk, and telling us why (see for examples).  Contact us here:  We also welcome the opportunity to give brief presentations to groups who wish to learn more about community concerns with the project. 

2) #BlockSidewalk supporters are setting up meetings with city councillors to discuss concerns with the Sidewalk Labs proposal in September.  If you are interested in joining (and haven't contacted us yet), let us know:

Stay tuned for more!

If you participated in the Waterfront Toronto consultations and did not see your comments reflected accurately, please send in feedback by end of day on Monday, August 26th.


A non-exhaustive list of recent critical thinking on the Sidewalk Labs plan and related big-tech news.

Daisuke Wakabayashi, "Senators urge Google to give temporary workers full-time status." New York Times, August 5, 2019. 

"Foodora couriers in Toronto preparing to vote on union certification," Canadian Press, August 7, 2019.

Jonathan Stempel, "Facebook loses facial recognition appeal, must face privacy class action suit." USA News, August 8, 2019.

Robert Benzie, David Rider, "Ford warns that an expanded Sidewalk Labs community is 'a terrible deal for taxpayers'," Toronto Star, August 12, 2019.

Sean McDonald and Bianca Wylie, "Sidewalk Labs, the candidate.", August 13, 2019.

John Cook, "Jeffrey Epstein was meeting with Silicon Valley reports before his arrest, 'rambling' about all the people he knew in tech." Business Insider, August 13, 2019. 

Vipal Monga, "Silicon Valley looks north as tech giants expand in Toronto," Toronto Star/Wall St. Journal, August 19, 2019. 

Bianca Wylie, "Dear Toronto Star Editorial Board,", August 20, 2019.

Blayne Haggart, "The Toronto Star, Sidewalk Labs and the tediousness of Us v. Them journalism." Blayne Haggart's Orangespace, August 21, 2019.

Ben Lovejoy, "France says 'crazy' that Apple and others get 'permanent tax haven status'." 9to5Mac, August 22, 2019.

Alexandra Berzon, Shane Shifflett and Justin Scheck. "Amazon has ceded control of its site.  The result: Thousands of banned, unsafe or mislabeled products." Wall St. Journal, August 23, 2019. 

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