Go walk Sidewalk
A new activist group is looking to put the brakes on Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs’ planned Quayside smart city on Toronto’s waterfront. The #Blocksidewalk Campaign has launched a petition to put a halt to the project and consider a fresh start for the initiative.
The outfit says it harbours a wide-ranging and ever-increasing list of concerns about the project, along with growing frustration “with a public engagement process that is unable to address these concerns effectively”.
The #Blocksidewalk Campaign maintains that “no-one in Toronto asked for a smart neighbourhood, or a test-bed. If residents want one, they should use a democratic process to set the rules and make sure policies are in place prior to moving ahead.”
It adds that “Toronto’s tech sector is booming, and will continue to do so with or without Sidewalk Labs. Economic development policy and how to manage its impacts on residents is for the city to decide, not Alphabet Inc.”
“Everything about this project has been overwhelmingly opaque,” community activist Melissa Goldstein told The Star. “It’s been impossible to get clear answers about even the most basic things about this project, and after 16 months of trying, I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’re pretty much fed up.”
Ontario's former privacy commissioner quit Sidewalk Labs last year over data protection concerns re Quayside, while a member of an advisory panel to the project also resigned citing apathy and a lack of leadership the part of Waterfront TO, the organisation charged with overseeing the smart city.