The City is holding public consultations to discuss how Toronto should regulate digital technologies and data use.
Waterfront Toronto held a Public Briefing on November 19, 2019 to provide an update on the Quayside project.

Quayside is a 4.8 hectare (12 acre) parcel of land on Toronto’s waterfront, located at Queens Quay Boulevard East and Parliament Street. Through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process, Waterfront Toronto engaged Sidewalk Labs to develop a proposal for these lands – called a Master Innovation and Development Plan or MIDP. The City of Toronto is not a party to the Plan Development Agreement between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs and will not be an author of the MIDP. City Staff are working with the two organizations to encourage the development of proposals that are consistent with applicable City policies and regulations. City of Toronto engagement for the project is managed by the Waterfront Secretariat in the City Planning division.

The MIDP is expected to outline a vision for the Quayside site and make specific proposals related to sustainability, buildings, public realm, mobility, economic development, housing affordability, social infrastructure, and digital infrastructure and data governance. Staff anticipate that the MIDP will also explore the potential of implementing selected technologies and innovations beyond the Quayside site, as contemplated in the Waterfront Toronto RFP. This may include a proposal for a Sidewalk Labs development in the western portion of Villiers Island, including an expanded Google Canada headquarters, as well as provision for other technology and innovation companies and organizations. Further, the MIDP may propose roles for Sidewalk Labs in advising Waterfront Toronto, on deploying technology and in financing infrastructure beyond the Quayside site.

After the Waterfront Toronto Board has considered the MIDP, City staff anticipate hosting public and stakeholder consultations in 2020 focused on the City’s interest. City staff would retain the services of a professional public consultation facilitator. Public meetings would be held throughout the City and would be webcast.

Given the significance of questions related to data privacy and governance, the City’s review of the MIDP would also be informed by a City of Toronto digital infrastructure policy framework and governance model as well as Provincial and Federal policy frameworks on digital strategy and data governance as they become available.

Quayside is a 12-acre area in the East Bayfront located at the foot of Parliament Street and Queens Quay Boulevard East, south of the Gardiner Expressway. Quayside is a prime development site, largely owned by Waterfront Toronto. The area also includes lands owned by the City of Toronto (1.5 acres), Ports Toronto and private landowners. The site consists of three development blocks with the following primary addresses: Quayside (259-291 Lake Shore Blvd. E., 200 Queens Quay W., 2 Small St.), Parliament Development Lands (307 Lake Shore Blvd. E, 3-15 Parliament St.) and 333 Lake Shore Blvd. E.

According to the Plan Development Agreement between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, the MIDP will also explore opportunities to implement certain technologies and innovations at a district-level scale (for example, district energy) within the Designated Waterfront Area, from Exhibition Place in the west to Leslie Street in the east.

Quayside Property Map
Quayside Property Map
Designated Waterfront Area Map
Designated Waterfront Area Map

Waterfront Toronto was established in 2001 by the governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto to oversee the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Waterfront Toronto has the mandate to implement revitalization projects in the Designated Waterfront Area (DWA).

In 2017, Waterfront Toronto selected Sidewalk Labs as an “Innovation and Funding Partner” to develop a development vision and implementation strategies for Quayside. On July 31, 2018, Waterfront Toronto’s board approved a Plan Development Agreement (PDA) with Sidewalk Labs defining and governing the relationship between the two organizations in the development of a Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) for Quayside.

In January of 2018, the Deputy City Manager submitted a staff report to Executive Committee describing the MIDP process and the City’s role.

In June of 2019, the Deputy City Manager submitted a staff report to Executive Committee to provide an update on the Quayside project. The update describes Waterfront Toronto’s decision-making process for the MIDP, a proposed work plan for the City’s review of the MIDP, as well as progress on a City-wide digital infrastructure policy framework and governance model, to be used in reviewing the MIDP.

The City of Toronto is not a party to the Plan Development Agreement (PDA) between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, and will not be an author of the MIDP.

City staff are providing preliminary comments on work in progress to encourage the development of proposals that are consistent with applicable City policies and regulations.

The City of Toronto’s involvement in this project is managed by the Waterfront Secretariat, part of the City Planning Division. The Waterfront Secretariat leads the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative on behalf of the City, working with federal and provincial partners and Waterfront Toronto to ensure the right structures, agreements, and supports are in place to advance revitalization in the Designated Waterfront Area.

The roles and responsibilities of the City, Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO, now CreateTO) in revitalizing the East Bayfront and the Port Lands are defined in a Memorandum of Understanding approved by City Council in 2006.

In addition to the City of Toronto’s authority on policy and regulatory matters, the City owns 1.5 acres of land within the Quayside site. Any use of City-owned lands will require Council approval, including approval of a Business and Implementation Plan.

Sidewalk Labs is currently preparing a draft MIDP for submission to Waterfront Toronto, targeted for the first half of 2019. Waterfront Toronto will evaluate the draft plan with input from the public, stakeholders and their government partners, including the City of Toronto.

The MIDP must be approved by the boards of Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs in order for the two organizations to pursue further implementation of the plan. If approved by these organizations, the MIDP will not replace existing plans, zoning and other regulations in place on the Quayside site or in the broader waterfront.

Once a final MIDP is submitted to the City of Toronto, the Waterfront Secretariat will work with other City staff to review the plan. The City’s review process will include public consultation. Following this review process, City staff will report to City Council’s Executive Committee with an analysis of the MIDP and associated recommendations. The public will have the opportunity to comment to the Committee in writing or in person. Based on the current schedule, City staff anticipate bringing the MIDP to Executive Committee and Council for consideration in late 2019.

To implement the MIDP, Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs will have to initiate various municipal application and evaluation processes, given the City’s role as a regulator, landowner, and provider of municipal infrastructure and services. The precise list of required regulatory processes will be determined when the MIDP is submitted. Going forward, many of these processes will require Council approvals and public processes, such as planning, building and environmental approvals, right-of-way permits, road closings, real estate transactions, and affordable housing agreements. Business proposals in the MIDP will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, subject to the City’s procurement policies.

Sidewalk Labs has proposed a “digital layer” as a fundamental component of Quayside. This would potentially involve data gathering through tools like sensors, cameras, and smartphone applications. Along with physical infrastructure such as computers and wireless networks, the digital layer would also consist of the software and services that use the data collected, as well as the government policies and private agreements that govern how information can be gathered, accessed, controlled and used.

Sidewalk Labs has released draft proposals with respect to data gathering and governance. These proposals will be examined by all three levels of government. As technologies continue to evolve, it is likely that many of these issues will arise in other projects. Many of the ideas expected in the MIDP would require government support to move forward, such as sensors on public streets, a civic data trust, and digital connections to City services. The City will examine technology proposals made in the MIDP in consultation with the public and relevant stakeholders. Proposed digital solutions involving the City of Toronto will be subject to the same processes used by the City to address all data and privacy issues.

The City addresses data and privacy issues from a number of perspectives including accountability, lifecycle management, and citizen engagement. Accountability for managing information at the City is shared between the City Clerk, the Chief Information Officer, and each of the heads of City divisions and offices. Robust processes that address information collection, use, and maintenance are designed to protect individual privacy. These processes also consider anonymization, de-identification, or aggregation options for publishing open data so that as much information as possible can be shared with the public. Other processes and authorities protect the authenticity and context of City information so that it remains trustworthy and reliable for as long as the City needs to retain it. These processes are all based on existing laws.

Learn more about the City’s information governance framework.

City of Toronto-led Consultations

The City of Toronto is developing a Digital Infrastructure Plan. This plan will help guide decisions on how Toronto will evaluate and regulate digital technologies and data usage for City services and other proposals.
You are encouraged to attend and provide your feedback at one of the upcoming public consultation sessions:

  • December 7, 2019 — McGregor Park Community Centre (2231 Lawrence Ave E.), 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • December 9, 2019 — Toronto City Hall, Council Chamber (100 Queen St W.), 6:30 – 9 p.m.
  • December 12, 2019 — North York Central Library (5120 Yonge St.), 1:30 – 4 p.m.

*The December 9 meeting will be live-streamed on the City’s YouTube channel.

If you cannot attend, questions or written input can be emailed to

More information is available on the public consultations page.

Additional consultations on both the Digital Infrastructure Plan and the Quayside project are anticipated in 2020.

Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs Consultations

Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs are currently engaged in consultations to inform their planning. Details on these events are available on their websites.

Council Considerations and Decisions

EX6.1 Quayside – Update – June 2019
EX30.9 Sidewalk Toronto – January 2018

MM3.2 Data Governance and Smart Cities – February 2019

Staff Reports

Quayside Update – Report for Action – June 2019
Sidewalk Toronto – Report for Action – January 2018

Applicable Planning Policy

Central Waterfront Secondary Plan

East Bayfront Precinct Plan

East Bayfront – West Precinct Zoning By-law No. 1049-2006

Keating Channel Precinct Plan

Keating Channel Precinct West Zoning By-law No. 1174-2010

City of Toronto Official Plan

TOCore: Planning Downtown and Downtown Plan

City of Toronto built form and development guidelines (Complete Streets Guidelines, City-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines, Toronto Green Standard, etc.)

Port Lands Planning Framework

Waterfront Sanitary Servicing Master Plan

Waterfront Transit Reset

Related Initiatives

Automated Vehicles Strategy

Open Data Master Plan

Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment (EA) and Integrated Urban Design Study

Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities

Open Door Affordable Housing Program

TransformTO: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable and Prosperous Toronto


Waterfront Toronto / Sidewalk Labs Documents

Plan Development Agreement – July 31, 2018, renewed September 2019

Waterfront Toronto Request For Proposals No. 2017-13

For development concepts, presentation materials and consultation documents produced by Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, please refer to the websites of these organizations