Toronto has found itself in a controversy involving one of the world’s most powerful corporations; Alphabet, the parent of company of Google.
In 2017 it was announced that the Google affiliate, Sidewalk Labs, would be partnering with local governments in Toronto to develop a portion of the eastern waterfront into a multi-use urban area.
The area is planned to be a next-generation part of the city’s downtown core that would incorporate exciting new technologies, including innovative urban transit infrastructure and waste management systems. Newly leaked information however, has some people, including city councillors, questioning the true benefits such a project would bring to the city.
Sidewalk Labs’ internal documents proposed they be allocated portions of the local property taxes, as well as receive payouts from the increased property values experienced in surrounding areas of the city. Additionally, they referred to greatly expanding the original area of the project from 12 acres to over 800. This potential allocation of public funds and city property to a private development has stirred up controversy, and has many calling for the cancellation of the project altogether.
Although it is easy to imagine a way for the city of Toronto to benefit from such a development, balancing the interests of all Torontonians and the greater real estate market into the equation will most likely require more consultation than has so far taken place.