Dan Doctoroff is not a fan of the term ‘smart cities’. The Sidewalk Labs CEO and former deputy mayor of New York City, whose company is set to embark on the construction of a new community along the waterfront in Toronto, believes that cities are already generally smart. But he also believes that there certainly are ways to make them better.

How that can be done will be part of the vision that Sidewalk Labs will present to community stakeholders over the coming year as it embarks on fulfilling the contract it signed with Waterfront Toronto to develop Quayside, a 12-acre plot of land located at Parliament Slip, just south of the city’s downtown core.

Speaking at an RBCDisruptors in Toronto, Doctoroff spoke about the vision for Sidewalk Toronto, and the planning and design elements that will be incorporated into the project. It’s a vision that Doctoroff was quick to emphasize will not be imposed on the community, but rather represent the collaborative wants and needs of community stakeholders that will have their voices heard as part of the public consultation process.

“We really thought that this was the best place in the world to do this,” said Doctoroff. “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if Amazon sees what we see here, it won’t even be a close call. But we’re incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to work […] to co-create a plan that makes sense for this city and this country, but that hopefully also can serve as a model for success.”

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That model will look to today’s innovations that provide urban solutions that are socially, environmentally, and economically responsible. Doctoroff pointed to a number of innovations already being considered as part of the Quayside project, including the use of waste heat from Ashbridges Bay, the introduction of modular and cross-laminated timber construction practices, and new ideas for weather mitigation such as weather screening and heated pathways.

Ultimately, Doctoroff hopes that this new approach in urban innovation will provide an environment where the impacts of these ideas can be accurately tracked, and provide a new model for city-building that can be copied by communities across Canada and around the world.

For more information on what Sidewalk Toronto is proposing, visit http://sidewalktoronto.ca.


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