- Just over half (54%) of Toronto residents support Sidewalk Labs' proposed Quayside smart city project in Toronto, according to a new poll from Environics Research released by the Toronto Region Board of Trade. That level of support is slightly lower than the 55% approval measured in a February poll from Environics Research. Including respondents from the greater Toronto area (a sample size more than two times larger), support dropped to 47%. Opposition stands at 17% in the city and 13% in the greater Toronto area.
- Among respondents from the greater Toronto area, just 43% of respondents said they were aware of the Quayside project, although awareness rose to 56% among city residents. Among those who were aware of the project, 70% supported the project.
- "International headlines imply that Quayside plans are facing a wave of protests in Toronto, but that simply isn’t true," Jan De Silva, the board’s president and CEO, said in a statement. "In fact, a majority of Torontonians remain open to Sidewalk Labs getting a fair hearing in the many government approvals to come, even if there are still important policy issues which need to be resolved along the way."
The poll, the second by Environics Research about Sidewalk Labs’ project, shows that support is still mixed for the project, which will be a live way to test smart cities technology and design principles. The project has received criticism over concerns about how it would collect and store data, including the resignation of two advisory panel members.
An online campaign known as #BlockSidewalk has also circulated a petition to stop the project and restart it with more attention to consumer concerns. Still, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, which backs the development, says the latest poll results are a positive sign for the project. The poll, conducted between April 23 and May 11, had 1,000 respondents (426 in the city of Toronto).
Sidewalk Labs released more details about the project, including more information about plans for an independent third party to store any data collected and review requests from any company or government seeking access to that data. The 12-acre mixed-use Quayside development will accommodate 5,000 people, with 40% of its housing available at below market rates.
Buildings will be made of environmentally-friendly timber, will have weather-adapting adjustable awnings and will sit atop a network of underground tunnels to handle waste and deliveries. The site will also show off Sidewalk Labs’ dynamic, modular pavement that will allow streets to be converted from public space to driving lanes based on need, a test case of the company’s proposal for better street design.
With so much innovation packed into Quayside, Sidewalk Labs wants a big audience; the latest poll results show that the company and government backers still have work to do to drum up public excitement and moderate concerns about residents’ and visitors’ privacy.