Innovation

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs Nearing Agreement On Toronto’s Smart City Project

Alphabet Nears Agreement On Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and public corporation Waterfront Toronto are moving forward on a deal to develop the “city of the future” nearly two years after the deal was proposed.

Bloomberg is reporting that the two sides are addressing a number of issues ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline to reach an agreement. Contentious topics included Alphabet’s use of data and land values.

Sidewalk said it would invest $990 million in the smart city project.

“These discussions continue and no decisions have been made,” Andrew Tumilty, spokesman for Waterfront Toronto, said in an email. “Both parties are working to ensure that a decision can be reached by the Oct. 31, 2019 deadline.”

The project was intended to illustrate Alphabet CEO Larry Page’s vision of a city of the future, which would potentially include heated bike lanes and garbage disposals underground.

After announcing the project in 2017, the two sides got mired in issues regarding financing, data collection and control over public lands.

In response to the concerns, Sidewalk said it would put the data collected in the neighborhood, which is instrumental in powering amenities, into an independent trust. It also said it would build affordable housing units that are below market.

On Oct. 31, the Waterfront board will decide whether to move forward. If they do move forward, on March 31 they will finalize agreements to put things into place, with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.

If there is no agreement, Sidewalk Labs will be out the $50 million it has already invested into the project. It has made ample preparations, with a project plan that is more than 1,500 pages.

In June, the company released a master innovation and development plan, which introduced many of the contentious issues being discussed by the board.

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