It was supposed to be a sprawling “smart city” of tomorrow, with sensors tracking the speed of people crossing the streets and robots that could double as trash collectors.But the overhaul of Toronto’s eastern waterfront envisioned by a sibling company of Google, a plan that raised a chorus of privacy concerns, was severely scaled back on Thursday. Waterfront Toronto, the government agency responsible for development of the area, voted unanimously to limit the ambitions of the company, Sidewalk Labs, from its original 190-acre plan to 12 acres. The plans have included neighborhoods made entirely of wood, automatic awnings that shield pedestrians from rain, and sidewalks that melt snow. The development has been lauded for innovations that could help expand the global profile of Canada’s largest city.
Writing in The Toronto Star, Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities, recently argued that the development would be a boon for the city, which he said was lagging “behind leading high-tech cities like San Francisco, New York, London and Shanghai.”