Sidewalk Labs submits smart city master plan but public will have to

After more than a year and a half of planning, drafting and consultation, Sidewalk Toronto finally delivered its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) for a smart city project on Toronto’s waterfront. The public, however, will have to wait a little while longer before they get to see it. Federal-provincial-municipal planning agency Waterfront Toronto has the document, but in a statement the agency said they will review it for up to one week before releasing it.The Sidewalk Toronto project has been in development since the fall of 2017, when Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, was selected as a partner for the development of around 12 acres of land on Toronto’s eastern waterfront. Order of Canada architect, Silicon Valley investor call for rethink of Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto waterfront project Civil liberties group sues to quash Sidewalk Labs project, with final master plan due within weeks ‘Most people don’t like change’: CEO of Sidewalk Labs says criticism of project was inevitable Over the past 18 or so months, the project has faced mounting controversy and multiple schedule delays. The project’s harshest critics paint the development as a terrifying surveillance neighbourhood, funnelling vast amounts of data to a private corporation. But in reality, the public hasn’t yet seen the full proposal from Sidewalk Labs, and speculation has been driven by partial information about the project delivered in various public consultation forums.Sidewalk Labs has said that data collected from the project will not be used for advertising, and they have proposed that all sensors collecting data in public places should be governed by an “civic data trust” which would be an independent regulator.Since 2017, the company has emphasized that they’ve been listening to the public and the plan is still a work-in-progress. On Monday, Sidewalk Labs spokeswoman Keerthana Rang again emphasized the public consultation process in an emailed statement.“This plan is the result of consultation with more than 20,000 Torontonians. We are proud to reach such a significant milestone in this project and we are honoured to have the opportunity to present our vision of how the public and private sectors can work together to do something extraordinary on the waterfront, which we hope will set a new global standard for city-building,” Rang said.It is Waterfront Toronto’s responsibility to act in the public interest. We take this responsibility extremely seriously and we know that you are relying on us to fulfill it rigorously.Stephen Diamond, board chair, Waterfront Toronto “We will wait until the formal release of the plan by Waterfront Toronto to comment on details of the proposal. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Waterfront Toronto, all three levels of government, and the public on a project we believe will further cement Toronto’s position as a world leader in technology and innovation.”The MIDP is rumoured to be a huge document, potentially more than 1,000 pages long. It’s also technically still only a draft document, and there will now be another round of public consultations before any part of it is finalized. In a letter posted on the Waterfront Toronto website, board chairman Stephen Diamond said that within four weeks the agency will hold another consultation session to get feedback on the Sidewalk Labs plan.“We know that a number of concerns and cautions have been raised about this project and that there are many voices that want to be heard and considered,” Diamond wrote. “It is Waterfront Toronto’s responsibility to act in the public interest. We take this responsibility extremely seriously and we know that you are relying on us to fulfill it rigorously. We are committed to working with all of you to do exactly that.”

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