- Sidewalk Labs announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will no longer pursue the Quayside smart city project on the Toronto Waterfront.
- Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff said in the post that the "unprecedented economic uncertainty" has made it "too difficult" to continue financially viable work without sacrificing core parts of the plan.
- The Quayside project had been in the works for over two years and was planned in collaboration with Waterfront Toronto. In a statement, Waterfront Toronto said it will "take the long view when making real estate and development decisions on Toronto's Waterfront." The group pledged this is "not the end" of the Quayside project.
For years, plans for the Quayside project had been lauded as among those shaping the future of smart cities. Sidewalk Labs was in the process of transforming city planning, designing new tools, standards and practices for fellow urban planners to follow when developing fresh and resilient communities.
Waterfront Toronto’s statement said Sidewalk Labs' departure from the project was "not the outcome we had hoped for," but did not express any ill will toward the company, despite a history of butting heads.
Andrew Tumilty, a spokesperson for Waterfront Toronto, told Smart Cities Dive the group plans to review lessons learned in the last few years of working with Sidewalk Labs and move forward with a new plan for building Quayside.
"We're going to take a look at what we think makes sense, we’re going to [go back to] the public to get their sense on what sort of solutions they want to see prioritized and how they want to see development go forward," Tumilty said. "But our commitment to building a next-generation community in Quayside is as firm today as it was yesterday."
Sidewalk Labs had helped develop a number of innovative elements of the Quayside project, including weather-adapting technology, a "visual language" for data use in the community and a proto-model to demonstrate how mass timber would be used in building construction. Tumilty said he believes Waterfront Toronto will continue to pursue some of these innovations, as they were submitted to the group through an RFP process.
"As I understand it, any of the solutions that were proposed, anything we had reviewed, are ours to pursue if we’re able to do so with a different vendor, for example," Tumilty said.
Sidewalk Labs declined to respond to questions regarding layoffs or the company’s financial status. A spokeswoman for the company said more information would be shared as soon as possible.
This story has been updated to include comments from Waterfront Toronto and additional information on the project.