Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs abandons plan to build smart city in Toronto

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Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff speaks during a press conference where Alphabet announced it will develop an area of Toronto’s waterfront on October 17, 2017.

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs withdrew its plans for a “smart district” in Toronto on Thursday due to continued economic uncertainty, the company confirmed Thursday. 

The project has been the focus of the Sidewalk Labs for the last few years, and would’ve been a demonstration of its vision to build “smart cities” around the world.

In a blog post, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff said the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the real estate market made it impossible to continue its project in Toronto.

Doctoroff said that the work the company had done so far on the project will still “represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban projects.” 

The decision to pull out comes shortly before the May 20 deadline for Waterfront Toronto’s board to decide whether the project can continue, The Star reported. 

Sidewalk Labs, which aimed to create high-tech urbanization, had faced steep criticism from privacy advocates and citizen groups since it was selected as the developer of the area. It later released a 1,500-page draft plan noting how it would reign back some of its involvement. 

The company said it’s still working on a handful of projects, including internal work on factory-made mass timber construction, a digital master-planning tool and its approach to all-electric neighborhoods. It’s also continuing work on addressing urban mobility, infrastructure and health care, it said. 

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