The gloves come off for Toronto's smart city

The gloves come off for Toronto's smart city

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People are taking sides over Alphabet’s (Google’s) plans for a smart city in Toronto. Now the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the area’s chamber of commerce, has published an open letter signed by leading public figures urging citizens and public officials to welcome Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs to the city.

The company is looking to develop its $1.3bn Waterfront Toronto project with an initial 2.7m square feet of residential and commercial space, and is promising green buildings, less pollution, self-driving cars and innovative healthcare solutions.

Signatories to the letter say they see aspects to the project “which represent huge opportunities for our communities, and for Toronto”. They add that they believe there are many ideas in the Sidewalk proposal that can help the city tackle some of the major challenges it faces.

Among the big-hitting signatories are a couple of former mayors and an ex-Ontario finance minister.

Not everyone is as welcoming. For one, the #Blocksidewalk Campaign has launched a petition to put a halt to the project. And Ontario's former privacy commissioner left Sidewalk last year over data protection concerns.

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