Waterfront Toronto names new partners for land Sidewalks Labs intended to build on

A view of the Port Lands area is shown in Toronto on June 25, 2019. Waterfront Toronto has named two new companies that will develop a swath of lakeside land a Google affiliate once hoped to turn into a high-tech neighbourhood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

TORONTO — Waterfront Toronto has named two companies that will develop a swath of lakeside land a Google affiliate once hoped to turn into a high-tech neighbourhood.

The organization overseeing the city’s waterfront announced Tuesday that it will begin negotiations for the development named Quayside with Dream Unlimited Corp. and Great Gulf Group.

The companies intend to bring 800 affordable housing units and a nearly one-hectare forested green space with an urban farm sitting atop a residential mass timber building to the five-hectare site in downtown Toronto.

They will also build an arts venue on the land and kit out the property with low-carbon innovations meant to make Quayside the first all-electric, zero-carbon community at this scale.

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“We set out to make Quayside the kind of community that meaningfully improves the lives of its residents, neighbours and visitors,” said George Zegarac, Waterfront Toronto’s president and chief executive, in a news release.

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“The proposal from Dream and Great Gulf will make a real difference in the lives of those who live near the waterfront or come to visit, by creating affordable rental housing, extensive public spaces, and new jobs and business opportunities.”

Waterfront Toronto said that Dream Unlimited and Great Gulf beat out four other teams vying for the opportunity to transform the land.

The organization expects negotiations with the new partners to be complete by fall 2022. Then, more information will be shared with the public as development plans are drafted and municipal and development approvals are sought.

Waterfront Toronto’s announcement comes after Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs walked away from developing the land in May 2020 because of “unprecedented economic uncertainty.”

Sidewalks Labs had won the right to develop the land in 2017, but many complained about a U.S. company getting its hands on prime Canadian land that they felt should have been developed by homegrown firms.

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They also worried about what would happen with data collected from a myriad of sensors and devices Sidewalk Labs planned for the neighbourhood.

Click to play video: 'Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Quayside Toronto development'
Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Quayside Toronto development

At one point, even Waterfront Toronto had concerns with Sidewalk Labs after it unveiled a 1,500-page plan that envisioned a project that spanned 77 hectares — 16 times the original size.

Toronto Mayor John Tory trumpeted the new partners announced Tuesday as a great “Made-in-Toronto/Made-in- Ontario partnership.”

“This is an important step forward in the future of our waterfront and a crucial step in Toronto’s economic recovery,” he said, in a statement.

“I am so determined that Toronto’s economy will come back stronger than ever in the wake of COVID-19 and this project will be an important part of that recovery.”


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