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Oct

Google’s Sister Company investing in High Tech Toronto Waterfront Project

Posted by Nicholas Searle ot 08:57 PM

By 2050, approximately two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities, which means that we need to start planning now for how best to use our city spaces and include the natural environment to foster healthy communities.

Waterfront Toronto is partnering with Sidewalk Labs, Google's city-building sister company, to create a new live-work-play high tech, eco-friendly, bike-friendly neighbourhood on the eastern part of Queens Quay on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Mayor John Tory, have announced that Sidewalk Labs has won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood called Quayside on the eastern edge of downtown Toronto’s waterfront. Presumably this is the start of a new wave of innovative community living projects.

It is envisaged that the new neighbourhood will be a place for "tens of thousands of people" and will integrate advanced technology like self-driving public transit and ultra-efficient energy systems into everyday life, to provide a model for cities of the future.

The innovative development will be about 12 acres in size and include the demolition or restoration of three publicly owned blocks at the east end of the Toronto waterfront, where Queens Quay meets Parliament Street. The area is presently industrial land, which is under utilized, although in a prime location relative to the urban core.

The plan promises world-leading environmental sustainability building practices that could include thermal exchange systems to capture wasted building heat, and smart sensors to maximize efficiency of energy usage.

This new development would not be feasible without flood protection measures to be introduced, including redirection of the Don Valley river to make a new westward tributary flowing into Lake Ontario. This key first step is essential, considering this years flooding which occurred on the Toronto islands, at a time of uncertain climate change in which Lake Ontario reached some of its highest levels in over 100 years. The latter the Port Lands flood protection project is an investment of $1.25-billion in flood-proofing and revitalization.

This waterfront development is part of a grander vision for Toronto’s future.

All levels of Canadian government are committed to investing heavily in the “Port Lands”, which is currently a largely industrial area south of the Gardiner Expressway, from Cherry Street in the West to Leslie Street in the East. This could become a major new part of the city and would connect the downtown core to the greenspaces that exist on the lake edge, including the Tom Tompson park which provides for large habitat for migratory bird species.

In 2016, Toronto ranked 18th out of 125 cities based on their performance as a “Top City of the Future” (AT Kearney Report). This new interest from Sidewalk Labs might be an indication that the city is poised to surge ahead in those rankings.

What does the future hold for Toronto?

How far these new projects will go needs to be determined. Will we see large wind and solar projects being implemented adjacent to the city core, in order to increase the sustainability of the city? Perhaps urban “vertical farms” will be incorporated to use more aerial space to produce extra local food for the city’s ever growing population. Agricultural projects may become increasingly important to ensure local food security in times of global supply disruption. It is hoped that more innovative solutions will be found to deal with the many social and environmental issues that currently impact cities.

 

 

 

 

 


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