Sidewalk Labs has announced that it will abandon a major smart city project in Toronto’s Quayside, saying that COVID-19 pressures meant that the project was unfortunately no longer feasible.

Sidewalk Labs’ CEO, Dan Doctoroff, said in a statement that unprecedented economic uncertainty has made the project no longer financially viable without cutting core aspects of the project.

“It is with great personal sadness and disappointment that I share that Sidewalk Labs will no longer pursue the Quayside project,” Mr Doctoroff said.

“But as unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community.”

Mr Doctoroff said that although the project will no longer be going ahead, the current health emergency highlights the importance of future smart city projects for the future.

“I believe that the ideas we have developed over the last two-and-a-half years will represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability,” Mr Doctoroff said.

“On these fronts, we’ve already started innovative companies addressing urban mobility, next-generation infrastructure, and community-based healthcare, and invested in startups working on everything from robotic furniture to digital electricity. We continue to work internally on factory-made mass timber construction that can improve housing affordability and sustainability, a digital master-planning tool that can improve quality of life outcomes and project economics, and a new approach to all-electric neighborhoods.”

Thanking the people of Toronto and the Sidewalk Labs team, Mr Doctoroff said he was grateful for all those who assisted in the project. He also commended Toronto on it’s ongoing drive to become a more technologically advanced city.

“Sidewalk Labs was attracted to Toronto by the diversity, growth, and opportunity the city has to offer, and that view has been affirmed and strengthened at every step along the way. Toronto is one of the world’s great centers of technological innovation, and nothing about this decision will in any way diminish that.”

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