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Opinions divided over planned hi-tech city of the future in Canada

Charlotte Edwards, November 5, 2019 6:45PM The Sun

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An artist's impression of what Sidewalk Lab's futuristic city in Toronto, Canada, could look like. Picture: supplied media_cameraAn artist's impression of what Sidewalk Lab's futuristic city in Toronto, Canada, could look like. Picture: supplied


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Google plans to build a hi-tech city in a disused area of Toronto, Canada, complete with raincoats for buildings, heated footpaths, self-driving shuttles and underground delivery and waste-disposal systems.

If the final plans are approved, building could start as early as next March.

But not everyone is happy with the idea.

Though the group that oversees the development area, Waterfront Toronto, has agreed to keep working with the tech company, it has already scaled back the size of the city.

And some locals want more say about the plans and reassurances* about how data on future residents is collected and used.

The project is being run by a Google sister company called Sidewalk Labs.

It initially wanted to develop a 77ha site but has been given permission for just 4.85ha by Waterfront Toronto. Sidewalk Labs is hopeful it could expand its city later if the first, small stage is a success.

zdfgf d gd fd gfdg dfg dfg media_cameraAn artist’s impression of the proposed smart city on the waterfront in Toronto, Canada. Picture: supplied

Sidewalk Labs wanted to put data collecting sensors around the city that it would oversee*.

This data collecting proposal was rejected.

A final formal evaluation of the project and public consultation is now set for March 2020, after which building could commence.

Sidewalk Labs said: “We are working to demonstrate an inclusive* neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood and more affordable housing units.”

Sidewalk Labs initially won a contract to develop the area in Toronto back in 2017.

It said it would provide a mix of offices, retail spaces, affordable homes and hi-tech solutions for urban problems like traffic and waste.

An artist's impression of the waterfront of the planned hi-tech city. Picture: supplied media_cameraAn artist’s impression of the waterfront of the planned hi-tech city. Picture: supplied

Some of the proposals were criticised by Waterfront Toronto for being “tech for tech’s sake”.

Citizen opposition group Block Sidewalk wants the project to be cancelled completely.

It disapproves of a technology company being involved in city governance* and wants citizens to be consulted more.

Sidewalk Labs submitted a 1524-page proposal for its hi-tech urban utopia* dream.

It predicted it would create 44,000 direct jobs and house 5000 people within three to four years.

It also said the district would be a “climate-positive” neighbourhood and cut greenhouse gases by 89 per cent through innovative methods.

One of the eco-friendly features would be a district energy system called a thermal grid, which could generate heating, cooling and hot water without using fossil fuels. Instead it would harness geothermal* energy, heat from waste water and waste heat from buildings.

An advanced power grid would generate solar electricity that could be stored in batteries.

Waste would be disposed of in a “pay-as-you-throw” system that would encourage everyone to minimise waste. Instead of rubbish trucks, the small amount of waste that was generated would be sucked away from houses and offices in underground vacuum tubes.

More information on the plans is at

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

Smart cities are transforming how people live


  • reassurances: promises
  • oversee: be in charge of
  • inclusive : in which no one is excluded
  • commute: travel to and from home and work or school
  • evaluation: assessment for how good something is
  • governance: in charge of or governing an organisation or community
  • utopia: perfect place, paradise
  • geothermal: heat from underground


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  1. What city and country is the futuristic development planned for?
  2. How much land was the original city going to be on? What size is the land in the current plans?
  3. Where would heat and power come from?
  4. What percentage cut in greenhouse gas emissions are the developers claiming this neighbourhood will achieve?
  5. How would your household rubbish be removed from your home?


1. Tech city
Work with a partner. On a piece of A4 paper, draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the paper write the heading ‘Waterfront Toronto’ and draw or write all the tech and eco-friendly features mentioned in the Kids News article. On the right-hand side draw and/or write some other tech or eco-friendly features you would like to see in this new development.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Design and Technologies, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social

2. Extension
Why do you think the idea of data-collecting sensors was rejected? What data do you think they’d be interested in collecting and how would they use it? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

Noun Ninja
How many nouns can you find within your reading?

Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any nouns also included in any writing you have done while working with this story? What are they? Can you sort them into their categories?

If you haven’t done any writing, borrow four nouns from your reading to turn into a game of sentence tennis.

Sentence Tennis: In pairs, write the nouns on a piece of paper in front of you. Person A creates a sentence using one of the nouns and crosses it off the list. Person B has to continue the topic by adding another sentence using a different noun. Continue back and forth until all nouns on the list have been used. You can be as wacky as you want, but the sentences still need to flow and be grammatically correct.

Add a dice to use to add a VCOP challenge to your sentences.

  • Roll the dice after you have made your base sentence and use the challenge to change and uplevel it.
  • Roll a 1: Add a power opener (start with an ‘ly’ word, ‘ing’ word or a connective).
  • Roll a 2: Act out your punctuation as you say your sentence.
  • Roll a 3: Add a wow word (not the noun).
  • Roll a 4: Add a connective and extend your sentence.
  • Roll a 5: Replace the noun with a higher-level synonym for it, (must still mean the same thing).
  • Roll a 6: Shuffle your sentence order to make it sound better.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you want hi-tech cities like this one to be built? Would you live in one?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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