Toronto is just starting to define digital governance practices that will serve the public interest. We should have these in place before committing to a partnership whose consequences we can’t control.
There is no option for residents, workers or visitors to opt out of urban data collection, and no safeguards for children, but there should be. All Torontonians deserve the right to say no to ubiquitous surveillance.
Good question. The eastern waterfront is primarily owned by the City and the Province. Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. It is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
The CEO of Sidewalk Labs, Dan Doctoroff, has publicly stated that Sidewalk Toronto“is primarily a real estate play.” The Globe & Mail calls it a“land grab.” We want future waterfront development to benefit Toronto residents, not American real estate developers.
As originally proposed, the project was limited to a 12 acre area of Quayside. Then, a leaked document revealed that they planned to develop 450 acres of the Port Lands. In June, Sidewalk Labs officially proposed a plan for 190 acres. Letters exchanged in late October 2019 between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto appears to walk the scope of the project back to 12 acres - at least "as an initial stage." The legal status of the letter is unclear.
Sidewalk Labs isn’t being clear about their intentions. Can they be trusted with our waterfront?
The experience of other North American cities shows that large tech developments drive up rents across entire metropolitan regions. Let’s learn from the mistakes of San Francisco, Seattle and New York City, where the cost of renting a home has outpaced even tech workers’ salaries.
Hmm. The Toronto Star reports that only 5% of the units Sidewalk Labs may build will be truly affordable: i.e., 60% or less of Toronto’s average market rent. Worse, the company wants a discount on the cost of public land to create these units.
Toronto needs a real affordable housing strategy. This isn’t it.
A leaked internal document shows that more than half of Google’s global workforce is temporary or contract-based, which means they earn less money and have no job security. Meanwhile, will automation threaten good public sector jobs that pay a stable living wage?
Studies show that differential surveillance practices actually harm low-income, minoritized and disabled people, who are particularly vulnerable to algorithmic bias. This is why it’s important to have strong regulatory frameworks in place before we adopt these technologies.
New York and Berlin have rejected tech developments that didn’t work for their cities, and San Francisco City Council has banned the use of facial recognition software. In February, Toronto said no to a contract with Shotspotter Inc. because of privacy concerns. We can say no again!.