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Google headquarters to headline Toronto’s plan for a high-tech waterfront community

Google firm brainchild to be built in Toronto
Tue, Oct 17: Toronto’s eastern waterfront will be home to a brand new high-tech neighbourhood called “Quayside.” As Caryn Lieberman reports, it will be the first of its kind.

A New York urban development company has won a bid to transform Toronto’s eastern waterfront into a technology hub which will feature the home of Google’s Canadian headquarters.

The project is expected to be a mixed-use community with a digital technology design concept spearheaded by Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto under the moniker “Sidewalk Toronto“.

The two organizations, winners of a competition to build the high-tech neighbourhood, will develop 325 hectares (800 acres) of the Port Lands near Parliament Street and Queens Quay.

READ MORE: Over $1B announced for Toronto Port Lands flood protection project

The new district, to be known as “Quayside”, will be funded by three levels of government, and will host residential and commercial developments in addition to public spaces including smalls parks and a beach area.

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Sidewalk Toronto will commit US$50 million for initial planning and pilot project testing, while Canada, Ontario and the city have already allocated CAD$1.25 billion in flood protection and necessary infrastructure for that section of the waterfront.

Example of re-configurable mixed use space.
Example of re-configurable mixed use space. Sidewalk Toronto

The plan, expected to go through a public consultation in November, will allow for future development from startups, academic centres, and local organizations over several years.

At a press conference on Tuesday attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory said the development should secure the city’s branding as a “global centre for urban innovation” and should solve problems related to housing affordability, mobility and sustainability.

READ MORE: New ‘innovation centre’ announced for Toronto’s waterfront

Will Fleissig, president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto said in a statement that the project is part of the city’s 800 hectare (2000 acre) waterfront revitalization plan, and will connect currently undeveloped areas to nearby communities.

“Today, we are expanding our know-how by partnering with Sidewalk Labs to create a progressive, innovative community; one that addresses significant challenges and sets new standards around sustainability, affordable housing and community engagement.”

At Tuesday’s press conference, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that PM Justin Trudeau approached Google in 2015 pitching the idea of making Canada Silcone Valley plus “everything else Canada is.”

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LISTEN: Toronto Mayor John Tory joins AM640’s Kelly Cutrara Show

“I hear this a lot from politicians,” said Schmidt, “But somehow I believed him.”

Schmidt went on to say that the concept of using technology to “make the hopes” of a community come alive was not “some random activity” from a business perspective,  but the culmination of 10 years of thinking.

WATCH: Federal, provincial and municipal governments pitch in to fund redevelopment of Toronto’s Port Lands. Mark Carcasole reports.

Federal, provincial and municipal governments pitch in to fund redevelopment of Toronto’s Port Lands
Federal, provincial and municipal governments pitch in to fund redevelopment of Toronto’s Port Lands