Waterfront Toronto seeks partner for Quayside development

After almost a year of sitting idle following the sudden departure of its previous partner, Waterfront Toronto is once again opening the doors to develop and revitalize a multi-million dollar plot of land on Toronto’s waterfront.

Waterfront Toronto said launching a “request for qualifications (RFQ)” would be the first step to identify potential developers to bring the Quayside project back to life. The project aims at revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront in the downtown area spanning about five blocks.

“The people of Toronto have told us that they want to see a bold vision realized on the waterfront that reflects the confident, welcoming, and imaginative civic spirit of our city,” said Stephen Diamond, chair of the board for Waterfront Toronto.

Read more: Sidewalk Labs announces it’s no longer pursuing Toronto waterfront development

“We are looking for leaders in the development field that will share our ambition to create a place that fuses Quayside to the water, and provides more beauty, utility, and originality than previously imagined. We want Quayside to be timeless, adaptive, and to propel us into our rightful place among the great waterfronts of the world,” Diamond said.

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In May 2020, Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs walked away from the smart city project after spending years and millions of dollars on the proposal. At the time amid a global pandemic, Sidewalk Labs cited world events that made it too difficult for the project to be “financially viable” without sacrificing key parts of it.

The partnership between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto began in 2017 after Sidewalk won the right to develop a proposal for the swath of lakefront land from Waterfront that was underdeveloped and underserved by transit and other key city amenities.

Critics instantly complained about a multibillion-dollar, U.S. corporation creeping into the country and getting its hands on prime land that could have been developed by homegrown enterprises. They worried about what would happen with data collected from a myriad of sensors and devices throughout the neighbourhood.

Read more: Ontario privacy commissioner recommends updating laws to prepare for smart cities

Meanwhile, George Zegarac, Waterfront Toronto’s CEO, said, “Quayside is an opportunity to reimagine a stronger economic future and create a post-pandemic landmark community that addresses many of the vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed.”

Toronto city Coun. Joe Cressy echoed the same sentiments that the project would be a “new model for how we can build a 21st century neighbourhood ⁠— one that is truly affordable, liveable and sustainable.”

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Waterfront Toronto, which was established by the federal, provincial and municipal governments to oversee and lead the renewal of the city’s waterfront, said the RFQ submission deadline is May 12.

⁠— with files from The Canadian Press and Jessica Patton.

Click to play video 'Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Quayside Toronto development' Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Quayside Toronto development

Sidewalk Labs pulls out of Quayside Toronto development – May 7, 2020

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