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Critics Vow to Block Sidewalk Labs' Controversial Smart City in Toronto

In an echo of the Amazon HQ2 backlash in Queens, Canadian foes of Alphabet’s city-building arm have organized a campaign against the Quayside development.
A Sidewalk Labs rendering of a timber high-rise on Toronto's waterfront.
A Sidewalk Labs rendering of a timber high-rise on Toronto's waterfront.Sidewalk Labs

Ever since Sidewalk Labs announced its plan to develop a Toronto neighborhood “from the Internet up” in 2017, the Google sister company has faced consistent criticism, locally and abroad. Now, in the wake of fresh headlines related to the project and a growing global backlash against urban profiteering by other tech companies, it will face an organized resistance.

Launched Monday morning, #BlockSidewalk is a campaign by Toronto residents to halt Sidewalk Labs’ sensor-laden, data-driven vision for a parcel of waterfront land known as Quayside. For the moment, supporters anywhere in the world can add their names to an online petition “to stop the project, assess the lessons learned, address the policy issues and then consider a fresh start for the deal.” In the future, leaders say, the campaign may eventually lead letter-writing, meetings, protests, and other actions.