Alphabet unit sets conditions for Toronto smart city project

Alphabet Inc’s Sidewalk Labs unit has proposed conditions to get a share of property taxes, development fees, and the rising value of Toronto city land as part of a deal to build a smart city, Reuters reported.
smart city technology investment

Sidewalk Labs, which provides urban technology infrastructure, is planning a 4.9-acre smart city along Toronto’s harbor front. The project has already faced opposition from locals over concerns of data privacy.

Sidewalk Labs said the proposal was yet to the evaluated by Toronto city and the public and has the potential to generate around C$6 billion ($4.5 billion) to pay for the infrastructure over 30 years.

The proposal suggests that a light rail transit and infrastructure be financed by a mix of development charges, incremental property taxes and increased land value.

Sidewalk Labs outlined its project for a light railway transit, 2,500 homes where 40 percent would be below market price, and a tall-timber factory they project will create 4,000 jobs.

These would be financed by Sidewalk, and the company plans to recoup its investment through the various taxes, the proposals showed.

“We’re prepared to take the risk up front of developing a model to help make that happen, and we’re prepared to essentially get paid back when we’ve demonstrated that it can be successful,” Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff told Toronto Star newspaper.

Micah Lasher, head of policy and communications at Sidewalk Labs, said he expected people would not pre-judge what the company is proposing, and that public discussion would be an important part of the process.

“The City and Waterfront Toronto have not received any formal proposal at this time and no permissions or dispensations have been granted,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher expressed concerns about the proposal. “I was terribly shocked because this was not within the scope of the project. I think it’s a big credibility problem for everybody.”

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