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Google given green light for Toronto smart city

Sidewalk Labs’s plans to create a smart city in a disused area of Toronto can proceed but on a much smaller scale than it had wanted.

Any data the Google-affiliate collects there must be treated as a public asset.

Waterfront Toronto, the group charged with overseeing development of the area, voted unanimously for it to proceed, after imposing several conditions.

The project has proved controversial.

Sidewalk Labs had wanted to develop a 190-acre (0.7-sq-km) site but was given permission for just 12 acres. It had also wanted to create its own group to oversee the data collected by sensors around the city, which was also rejected.

The project will now move forward to a more formal evaluation and further public consultations. A final vote on whether to approve the project is set for March 2020.

Sidewalk Labs said: “We are encouraged by today’s decision by the Waterfront Toronto board and are pleased to have reached alignment on critical issues with Waterfront Toronto.

“We are working to demonstrate an inclusive neighborhood here in Toronto, where we can shorten commute times, make housing more affordable, create new jobs, and set a new standard for a healthier planet.”

Stephen Diamond, who chairs the Waterfront Toronto group, said in an open letter: “Let me be clear, this is not a done deal. There is still much work to do before a final decision.

“While a final board decision whether or not to proceed has yet to be made, we are pleased that we are now able to move to the evaluation stage on a project that has the potential to create new jobs and economic development opportunities, create a carbon-neutral neighborhood and more affordable housing units.”

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