The Interview

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff on the future of Toronto’s smart city project

On October 17, 2017, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff came to Toronto for the celebratory announcement of a plan to build a smart city on the lakeshore. 

A lot has changed since. The project has polarized Torontonians, and immediately after the Google sister company released its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) in June, Stephen Diamond, chair of the board of Waterfront Toronto—the organization overseeing the redevelopment of that part of the city—raised a number of concerns.

On Thursday, Waterfront announced that Sidewalk had agreed to scale back its plans significantly—limiting the project to just the 12-acre Quayside neighbourhood rather than the 190 acre “IDEA District” Sidewalk had proposed, scrapping the company’s controversial data governance proposal and making clear that despite Sidewalk’s insistence, there are no guarantees of a transit line to the site.

Later that afternoon, Doctoroff sat down with The Logic for the first time to discuss the company’s evolving relationship with Waterfront Toronto, what he would have done differently and whether the smaller scale of the project will let him realize Sidewalk’s vision.

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