It’s been a long-time coming.
Today, Sidewalk Labs, Google’s sister company and Alphabet-backed “bet” to turn Toronto’s waterfront into a surveillance test bed, announced that it pulled out of Toronto.
“This is huge, we are sending a message to Silicon Valley on behalf of all those around the world who are fighting big tech in their cities,” says Julie Beddoes, one of the organizers with #BlockSidewalk. “The Quayside project got mangled down from an 800-acres vision of a surveillance state to a bid for an office building on a 12-acre site. We knew all along that Sidewalk can’t realize its tech dreams on 12-acres alone, so this has been coming for a while,” Beddoes continues.
News about Alphabet pulling out of real estate deals in other cities around the world preceded today’s announcement. Whether startups like Sidewalk Labs have a solid ROI was also questioned during Alphabet’s latest earnings call. Covid-19 may have put the last nail into its coffin as government priorities surely changed and a huge amount of what Sidewalk Labs wanted to do in Toronto required taxpayers’ money and publicly owned land.
“This outcome is a testament to the principled and courageous stance taken by citizens to protect Toronto from Google’s corporate takeover,” says Thorben Wieditz of #BlockSidewalk. “Without the on-the-ground organizing and the commitment of so many individuals, groups and organizations, this would have not been possible.”
We want to thank the many citizens of Toronto who came together and continue to work tirelessly to build the just, equitable and inclusive city we all want. And with Sidewalk Labs’ defeat and the important task of rebuilding our city post-COVID, we may just get that chance.
Never stop organizing. Onwards.