Halloween will mark end of Sidewalk Labs’ project if disagreements persist

Waterfront Toronto remains committed to developing Quayside, even if it does so without Sidewalk Labs

If disagreements over Sidewalk Labs’ project to remake a portion of Toronto’s waterfront continue, it could end on October 31st, 2019.

Waterfront Toronto, the development agency representing the city, province and federal government, and Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs agreed on the Halloween deadline to resolve fundamental disagreements over the plans.

Such stumbling blocks include a new transit line and the amount of land involved. Initially, the project sought to transform a 12-acre site, called Quayside, into a futuristic, tech-centred neighbourhood. However, Sidewalk Labs’ recently revealed $1.3 billion plan includes expansion to another 178 acres of public land to the east.

Waterfront Toronto spokesperson Andrew Tumilty told the Toronto Star that should these issues remain unresolved, dropping Sidewalk Labs and restarting a global search for a new waterfront development partner is among the options.

Further, Tumilty said that should the work with Sidewalk Labs not go forward, Waterfront Toronto would still be committed to developing the Quayside site and figuring out the best way to do that.

On Friday, Waterfront Toronto published an online notice that it would extend the Plan Development Agreement (PDA) by six months until March 31st, 2020. The extra time would allow Waterfront Toronto to review and consult on Sidewalk Labs’ plan. The amendment also includes a termination provision that, should specific issues remain unresolved, the PDA would terminate on October 31st.

On top of this, Waterfront Toronto’s design review panel, which includes experts who evaluate all projects to ensure plans meet the agency’s criteria and objectives, rejected part of Sidewalk Labs’ proposal. The panel also gave conditional approval for another part of the project.

The panel voted “non-support” for the proposed urban design and public realm, or outdoor features, of the Quayside proposal. It did give conditional support for buildings on the north side of Queens Quay but said some changes were still needed. The panel advises the Waterfront Toronto board, which makes final decisions.

Additionally, the city, provincial and federal governments all have final say over whether the Sidewalk-Quayside project can proceed.

Source: Toronto Star