New polling shows 55 percent support Quayside project smart city

A new Environics Research report says 14 percent of Canadians support the Quayside smart city project, while another 41 percent somewhat support it. That’s a total of 55 percent of Canadians that support the project to some extent.

The new report noted that three percent of Canadians strongly oppose the project, while eight percent somewhat oppose it. It’s important to note that 34 percent of respondents didn’t know about the project or didn’t have an opinion on it.

In recent weeks, multiple negative stories on Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs and its partnership with Waterfront Toronto have surfaced.

Responses in the report also note that 76 percent of Canadians feel the partnership between the two should proceed “if it yields innovative solutions to problems like traffic congestion and housing affordability, and provided that taxpayer interests are safeguarded.”

Twenty-four percent of Canadians feel though that the partnership should not continue.

More recently, Sidewalk Labs representatives appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Waterfront Toronto executives are also expected to testify.

After an explosive report from the Toronto Star revealed the project was much larger than reported, NDP Member of Charlie Angus told MobileSyrup that there should be a halt on the project and might call on Canada’s Ethics Commissioner and Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner to partake in an investigation.

Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto began working on the project in October 2017.

The Waterfront Toronto board of directors later approved a Plan Development Agreement (PDA) with Sidewalk Labs in July 2018. As a result of the 58-page PDA, Sidewalk Labs said that it would invest approximately $40 million USD (roughly $52.87 million CAD) to develop the Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP).

Of that total figure, Sidewalk Labs set aside $2.6 million USD (approximately $3.52 million CAD) to examine legal, regulatory and policy issues, including data privacy and digital governance.

Environics Research said in the report that the study was conducted for the Toronto Region Board of Trade “to understand the attitudes Torontonians hold towards smart cities, technology, and the Waterfront Toronto/Sidewalk Labs development at Quayside.”

The study was based on 600 interviews conducted online with residents of the City of Toronto between February 6th and 11th. It’s important to note that the survey was done before the most recent story by the Toronto Star on proposed plans to expand throughout Toronto’s Port Lands.