Waterfront Toronto: Make Sidewalk Lab's Plans for our Waterfront Public!

THIS PETITION IS NOW CLOSED - BECAUSE IT WORKED!  Waterfront Toronto has announced it would release the draft MIDP to the public within one week of receiving it from Sidewalk Labs.  Thank you all for your support!

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Sidewalk Labs, a Google sister company, has ambitions to build a "smart city" along a portion of Toronto's waterfront. Torontonians have been waiting for concrete details about the proposal for over a year.  A recent leak by the Toronto Star suggests Sidewalk Labs wants to play a much larger role in developing the waterfront beyond the 12-acre Quayside site, and may be seeking public subsidies along the way. 

Sidewalk Labs is expected to provide a draft Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) to Waterfront Toronto shortly. This will be the first opportunity Torontonians have to see a formal, concrete proposal by Sidewalk Labs for the Quayside/port lands, and begin to discuss and evaluate it. 

The #Blocksidewalk coalition is calling on Waterfront Toronto to release the document to the public upon receipt. This is a discussion that should not be held behind closed doors. 

ADD YOUR VOICE: Make Sidewalk/Google's plans for our waterfront public! (Please read our petition below and add your organization/name by clicking on the button.)

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We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon Waterfront Toronto to release Sidewalk Labs’ draft Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) to the public as soon as it is received from Sidewalk Labs this spring. 


The draft MIDP should provide long overdue details about the scope of Sidewalk Labs' proposal and its business model. Torontonians have been waiting for over a year to have an informed discussion about Google's sister company’s proposals for the waterfront.  Sidewalk Labs has selectively released details – which may or may not be part of the proposed plan – allowing them to test market project ideas without providing a substantive foundation for debate. This debate is long overdue.

Details about Sidewalk Labs’ plans were leaked to the Toronto Star in February 2019 and revealed that the company hopes to 1) play a role in developing Toronto’s Port Lands well beyond the 12-acre Quayside site and 2) privatize future municipal revenues (possibly through property taxes, development fees, and increases in the value of city land) in exchange for their contributions to infrastructure financing/development. [1]  

The revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront is only possible because large sums of taxpayer money have been invested to prepare these lands for redevelopment. Last year, $1.2 billion dollars were committed for flood protection and environmental remediation.[2] Whether a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest corporations (not accountable to Toronto residents) should be able to capture the value created by these investments is a matter of public interest. These are not matters for Waterfront Toronto, Sidewalk Labs, and all levels of government to be discussing behind closed doors.

The Port Lands remain one of the largest developable urban sites in North America.  Sidewalk Labs’ plans, from all indications, go beyond a routine development proposal, raising questions about municipal governance, inclusive development, corporate control of public space, digital rights and privacy. 

In December 2018, a request was made to have the draft MIDP document released as soon as it was received from Sidewalk Labs. Waterfront Toronto said no.[3] This is not acceptable. It is essential that members of the public have adequate time and information to evaluate Sidewalk Labs’ proposal before it goes to Waterfront Toronto's board for a decision.

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[1] Toronto Star, February 14, 2019: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/02/14/googles-sidewalk-labs-plans-massive-expansion-to-waterfront-vision.html

[2] How the $1.2 billion dollar injection will kickstart the Port Lands: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-port-lands-investment-1.4185524

[3] Sidewalk Toronto public roundtable #4, December 8, 2018.  See 1:29:00 mark in video: https://sidewalktoronto.ca/event/public-roundtable-4/: “No. We are going to review (the MIDP) and provide feedback based on our criteria and it will be fully made public but we need governments to have a look at it. Because what we don't want to do is propose something, we don't want Sidewalk to propose something, that the governments or ourselves say a) that's not in keeping with what we're looking for or b) we can't implement that, we can't change that policy, we can't make that happen. So we don't want to get people's hopes up for something that is a pipe dream. So no."[3]

Who's signing

Karin Jordan
Lis Pimentel
Ian Reynolds
David Anderson
Trudi Deacon
Darren Bates
Cynthia Malik
Carl Lyons
Morgan Cowie
Nigel Morton
Isabel Mackay-Clackett
Marnie Peters
Richard Stallman
Joe Woolvett
Iain Campbell
Tim Warner
Prabha Khosla
Michelle Mawhinney
Richard Bingham
rachel shi
Christopher Mendis
Steven Logan
Meagan Moore
Pat Jeffries
Matthew LaRose
Parastou Saberi
Sylvia Pellman
August Bourré
GOAL: 110 signatures

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