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Evaluation committee rejects 10% of Sidewalk Labs proposals, supports remainder

An artist's rendering of a building of Sidewalk Labs' Quayside community is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout/Picture Plane for Heatherwick Studio, Sidewalk Labs

A committee tasked with advising Waterfront Toronto about Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs’s proposal to build a smart city says the agency should support most — but not all — of the company’s ideas for the hi-tech neighbourhood.

A report released today by an evaluation committee made up of Waterfront Toronto officials and business leaders says of the 160 ideas Manhattan-based Sidewalk has pitched for a 12-acre swath of Toronto’s eastern waterfront it hopes to develop, 144 are worthy of support, but 16 should not be backed.

Committee members took issue with some of Sidewalk’s most high-profile and widely-anticipated ideas, including its “raincoats” for buildings, which the company has prototyped as a way to provide shelter during inclement weather but sunlight during better conditions. The committee said the “raincoats” create accessibility concerns.

It also complained that a 1 per cent condominium resale fee Sidewalk had pitched would not produce substantial benefits and that a neighbourhood association Sidewalk wanted to form would adversely affect leasing and housing affordability.

The committee threw its support behind ideas including green roofs, pricing incentives for electric car sharing, underground delivery tunnels, heated payment and pneumatic waste systems, but says some of those ideas will take additional support from governments, regulatory reform or one-time investments from Waterfront Toronto.

Waterfront Toronto has said it will rule on whether to go forward with the Sidewalk Labs project by May 20.