Sidewalk Toronto at Quayside | ?m | ?s | Sidewalk | Snøhetta

WislaHD

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Yeah, not at all. This is good news. They wanted everything and weren't willing to take part in the process. Behind the scenes, they were even worse 'advocates' for their scheme than they were publicly.
Yeah, no kidding. It seemed like every lobbyist in the city was employed by Sidewalk for 2.5 years straight. Sidewalk was fighting an asymmetrical battle with our civic institutions from day 1. Let's not kid ourselves, this is not how a benevolent actor operates.

Through this process, they've compromised Waterfront Toronto as an organization, and the independence of various urban research institutes in Toronto have been called into question. A lot of damage has been done on the civic sphere, and Sidewalk gets to leave injury-free, as is the typical way of doing things in Silicon Valley.
 

mjl08

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As Councillor Gord Perks noted on Twitter, this was always about real estate, pure and simple. With the economy tanking, Google didn't think they would receive a return on investment.

All this techno-gobbledygook about "innovation" and "changing the way we live" was BS. Google is not a city builder - it is a for profit corporation that is trying to reap rewards for its shareholders.
 

ADRM

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Another nice thing Toronto can't have.
But what "things" can we actually not have? Other than the stuff we wouldn't actually want -- like, to pick just one, a for-profit corporation collecting, storing, and generating revenue from a heretofore unprecedented amount of personal data -- can anyone identify an "innovation" that Sidewalk proposed that hasn't actually already been delivered or conceived either elsewhere or in Toronto?

Tall timber? There are two tall timber projects *in the active development pipeline literally across the street* from the (former) Sidewalk site, and numerous others across the city both with active development applications and in the conceptual phase.

Underground loading and servicing? Construction of this approach is wrapping pretty much at this very moment at the Well.

Subterranean pneumatic tube garbage, recycling, and organics collection? There are a host of companies that deliver these solutions -- one of which Sidewalk would've had to partner with to actually deliver on that aspect of their proposal --

Active transportation-focused streets? Toronto's Complete Street Guidelines prescribe this.

Building "raincoats?" Basically what retractable awnings are.

"Modular pavers?" There are streets in Rome where the cobblestones are more than a thousand years old.

Snohetta or Heatherwick designing the buildings here? They just did some pretty renderings; we have no idea who the architects were going to be here, because Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto were going to have to negotiate key details like that with the development partner who was to actually build this.

And so on...

I concede that the pretty renders and slick marketing caught my eye as well at the outset, but as we learned more and as the plans evolved, it became clear to me that there wasn't actually a whole bunch in the Sidewalk proposal that was genuinely novel, to say nothing of the fact that we never really heard from Sidewalk satisfactory answers to the totally legitimate concerns on the other side.

Turning our heads to the immediate future, should Waterfront Toronto be held to deliver to some of the standards that Sidewalk's vision laid out for this site? Absolutely. But we simply do not need Sidewalk to deliver that.
 

old boy

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But what "things" can we actually not have? Other than the stuff we wouldn't actually want -- like, to pick just one, a for-profit corporation collecting, storing, and generating revenue from a heretofore unprecedented amount of personal data -- can anyone identify an "innovation" that Sidewalk proposed that hasn't actually already been delivered or conceived either elsewhere or in Toronto?

Tall timber? There are two tall timber projects *in the active development pipeline literally across the street* from the (former) Sidewalk site, and numerous others across the city both with active development applications and in the conceptual phase.

Underground loading and servicing? Construction of this approach is wrapping pretty much at this very moment at the Well.

Subterranean pneumatic tube garbage, recycling, and organics collection? There are a host of companies that deliver these solutions -- one of which Sidewalk would've had to partner with to actually deliver on that aspect of their proposal --

Active transportation-focused streets? Toronto's Complete Street Guidelines prescribe this.

Building "raincoats?" Basically what retractable awnings are.

"Modular pavers?" There are streets in Rome where the cobblestones are more than a thousand years old.

Snohetta or Heatherwick designing the buildings here? They just did some pretty renderings; we have no idea who the architects were going to be here, because Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto were going to have to negotiate key details like that with the development partner who was to actually build this.

And so on...

I concede that the pretty renders and slick marketing caught my eye as well at the outset, but as we learned more and as the plans evolved, it became clear to me that there wasn't actually a whole bunch in the Sidewalk proposal that was genuinely novel, to say nothing of the fact that we never really heard from Sidewalk satisfactory answers to the totally legitimate concerns on the other side.

Turning our heads to the immediate future, should Waterfront Toronto be held to deliver to some of the standards that Sidewalk's vision laid out for this site? Absolutely. But we simply do not need Sidewalk to deliver that.
The post mortems on this one will be interesting. Which developers will line up to propose new ideas for this site ? I'm not holding my breath.
 
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ericmacm

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It's better that this isn't happening. There is a lot to be said on the increased normalization of data collection and surveillance that this development would have brought. While there is already an incredible amount of data being collected in our lives every day, Quayside would have been a proof of concept that could have been used to completely change the game in terms of privacy intrusion. Google wanted too much power, and combined with their desires for an independent city within a city (complete with taxation powers), it would have been an incredibly bad deal for Toronto.
 

UtakataNoAnnex

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I am saddened they decided to pull out, I'm not sorry that they've pulled out.
 

picard102

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While there is already an incredible amount of data being collected in our lives every day, Quayside would have been a proof of concept that could have been used to completely change the game in terms of privacy intrusion.
How? If you have a cellphone and a home internet connection you're not worse off living in what they proposed.
 

Torontovibe

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I think we dodged a bullet and this is for the best. The more I read about this project and how Google was acting, the more cynical I became and I did not trust them to do the right thing. I have no doubt that in the long term, we will be much better off.
 

LUVIT!

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We will survive and we will get something better. Under our own control for us the people of Toronto not an experiment.
 

UtakataNoAnnex

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How? If you have a cellphone and a home internet connection you're not worse off living in what they proposed.
While I agree it's difficult to mask your presence in an internet/mobile age, I think the idea was that they wanted to expand on that considerably.
 

TheSix

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While I agree it's difficult to mask your presence in an internet/mobile age, I think the idea was that they wanted to expand on that considerably.
How exactly did they want to expand on that considerably? I thought they simply wanted to leverage tracking to strengthen the logistics to make the area a better place to live and work (aka, how often do they empty garbage cans).
 

old boy

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I think we dodged a bullet and this is for the best. The more I read about this project and how Google was acting, the more cynical I became and I did not trust them to do the right thing. I have no doubt that in the long term, we will be much better off.
I wish I could share your optimism but there is simply nothing quite like this approach to a large section of waterfront. I suspect we'll end up with just more hackneyed, piecemeal development creeping along the eastern waterfront.
 

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