Alphabet, the parent of Google, has a subsidiary called Sidewalk Labs, pitched a redevelopment project on the Toronto waterfront.
Well, their proposal has now been leaked, and their plans involve tax-kickbacks from the city and control over an area 10 times larger than they would develop:
Plans for a high tech Toronto community led by an Alphabet Inc.-backed entity should be scrapped, say politicians and prominent Canadian business and technology leaders.
In the wake of a leaked report last week that revealed Sidewalk Labs’ interest in laying claim to developer fees and taxes usually routed to the city in exchange for funding Toronto’s waterfront transit, longtime critics of the project said it is time to revisit whether the project should continue to move forward.
In addition to funding a light rail transit line, the latest round of ideas floated by Sidewalk includes plans to provide infrastructure to a waterfront area bigger than, but surrounding, Quayside.
City councillor Gord Perks, who represents the west-end Parkdale-High Park neighbourhood, has long fretted about Sidewalk’s data privacy policies, lack of transparency and desires around solid waste and transportation, but considered Thursday’s revelations around it wanting to fund a light rail transit line a “confirmation of our worst fears.”
“The three governments who are involved should halt the process with Google and go to the public and say we have an area of land as big as the downtown, what would you like to do?” he told The Canadian Press.
Among those who were calling for the project’s cancellation Monday was Bianca Wylie, the co-founder of the advocacy group Tech Reset Canada, who has long been advocating for the project to end.
“It should absolutely be shut down, but the reason for that isn’t what was in the plan. It’s the process,” she said. “There has been inadequate transparency from the very beginning.”
Despite Sidewalk hosting several meetings to collect public feedback, Wylie has long worried about the company being secretive with its plans — its transit ideas were only shared after slide decks containing the concepts were leaked to media — and is concerned about the breadth of topics Sidewalk has been lobbying all three levels of government on.
Developer Julie Di Lorenzo, who resigned from the Waterfront Toronto board over the project, also cast aspersions on the integrity of the project and its future.
“They are trying again to act like a master developer of hundreds of acres of lands that belong to The City of Toronto and its residents. Its outrageous,” she told The Canadian Press.
“Those monies belong to our democratically elected governments and property owners. Every time Sidewalk shows us a map, the land area they ‘need’ gets bigger.”
This is what happens when you get so rich that you start to belong your own bullsh%$.
It appears that Doug Ford, Ontario Premier and brother of the late crack smoking mayor of Toronto, is implacably opposed to such a deal, which segues nicely into the sort of, “Culture wars against latte liberals,” politics that he has promulgated.