The Big Read

After three high-profile resignations, Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs attempt to regain control of Quayside project

Sidewalk Toronto has garnered international headlines for its plan to build the smart city of the future, billed as an historic partnership between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., one of the world’s largest tech companies.

It was launched last fall with much fanfare, including a photo-op with the prime minister and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff. However, since then, the project has faced public criticism and internal tensions. Three high-profile figures have resigned in the past month alone, including the CEO and a board member of Waterfront Toronto. The project’s planning process was also given a six-month extension to develop the high-tech neighbourhood on the lakeshore of Canada’s largest city. All this has led to quiet speculation about whether Sidewalk Labs would abandon the project altogether.

Sidewalk Toronto has been saved for now, thanks to a new agreement signed on Tuesday.

Officials framed the move as the next step in a process that began with the signing of an initial framework agreement last October. But months of reporting and analysis show how the project began to unravel before it even got off the ground.

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