NARRATOR: It may not look like much, but this plot of land on Toronto’s waterfront is now ground-zero for a debate on what role technology and corporations will play in future city building.
In 2017, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of tech giant Google, won a bid to develop a so-called “smart city” prototype on this 12-acre, former industrial site. Though Sidewalk Labs declined to comment and would not grant us permission to film inside their Blue Lakeshore facility, here is where they demonstrate what amenities would be enjoyed by the 5,000 would-be residents, including streets that heat up to melt ice and snow without salting, and awnings for buildings that would lower and raise temperatures.
While no official proposals have been given to Waterfront Toronto, the government agency that awarded the bid, leaked plans published by the Toronto Star have raised interest, but also criticisms.
For University of Toronto Professor Mariana Valverde, the spectre of the private sector building infrastructure is worrisome.
MARIANA VALVERDE, PROFESSOR, CENTRE FOR CRIMINOLOGY AND SOCIOLEGAL STUDIES, U. OF TORONTO: They had this whole infrastructure plan, and that they were going to seek…