Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, the Google parent’s company focused on smart city technologies, is to build a “mixed-use, complete community in Toronto on its eastern waterfront, with the aim of building a livable space from the ground up using innovations in construction techniques, self-driving, climate friendly energy systems and more to build a community that’s affordable and accessible with a focus on connected tech.
The development, to be called Sidewalk, Toronto, will also pioneer new approaches to energy, including a thermal grid and on-site generation, and tech-enabled primary healthcare that will be integrated with social services.
The ambitious project aims to deliver unprecedented levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.
It is likely to feature fast wi-fi availability, millions of sensors, various sustainable energy projects and autonomous cars.
Technology companies are touting their hardware and software to cities, as urban planners tackle issues such as congestion, pollution and overcrowding.
“This will create a test bed for new technologies in Quayside,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Technologies that will help us build smarter, greener, more inclusive cities – which we hope to see scale across Toronto’s eastern waterfront and eventually in other parts of Canada and around the world.”
Former New York Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who is chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, said: “We believe Sidewalk Toronto can demonstrate to the world how to make living in cities cheaper, more convenient, healthier, greener, fairer, and even maybe more exciting.”
SeeNews reports that Google will move its Canadian headquarters to the redeveloped area, and Sidewalk Labs has committed $50m (£37m) to kick off the project.
The Quayside area in Toronto – some 800 acres (3.2 sq km) in total – is one of the largest underdeveloped urban areas in North America.
In its proposal, Sidewalk also said that Toronto would need to waive or exempt many existing regulations in areas like building codes, transportation, and energy in order to build the city it envisioned. The project may need “substantial forbearances from existing laws and regulations,” the group said.
A series of underground utility tunnels will house utilities like electrical wires and water pipes, and also provide pathways for freight-delivering robots.