One of Alphabet’s lesser known companies is focussed on reimagining cities for the future through “cutting-edge technology.” An experiment is underway to create this new kind of space in Toronto, with Sidewalk Labs this week publishing a draft site plan that dives into affordability, infrastructure, and sustainability.

Quayside is the waterfront neighborhood in Toronto that Alphabet last year got approval to renovate into a modern “testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes.”

Sidewalk Toronto estimates 68% residential space with 40% of that dedicated to below-market cost housing. Specifically, 20% is affordable and the other half is middle-income housing. In all, Alphabet expects 5,000 residents to live in the revamped neighborhood and 3,900 employees working in Quayside afterwards.

The housing program mix at Quayside is specifically designed to address the housing gridlock facing the city today. It will provide options and opportunities to more Torontonians, enabling an inclusive complete community on the waterfront.

This includes community facilities like an elementary school, day care, and a wellness center, as well as an “expanded all-ages public realm.”

In another appeal to gain public support for this project — with plans due to be submitted to the Waterfront Toronto project, the city, and other aspects of the Canadian government — Alphabet predicts over 9,000 construction jobs in Ontario as a result of the 12 new buildings ranging from 3 to 30 stories, as well as other infrastructure.

This includes streets designed without curbs that can be managed digitally with the rise of autonomous vehicles, while the “public realm” can be increased in off-peak hours.

Growth is creating challenges to traditional ways of moving around, but support for transit and innovations in mobility management offer opportunities to help people and goods move easily.

Quayside will of course be “climate positive,” with a 75%-85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions thanks to solar panels, battery storage, geothermal wells, sewer heat recovery, and other green efforts.

Sidewalk Labs will invest in a series of innovations that drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below levels in comparable projects, enable smarter management of resources, and reduce the cost of future upgrade and maintenance to the system.

The full draft site plan is an interesting read, with a public meeting for the community scheduled next month.


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