May 7 (UPI) -- A Google-related company has pulled the plug on its ambitious high-tech waterfront city project in Toronto, citing financial strains from the coronavirus, but the project had also run into local opposition.
Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs said the project, called Quayside, would have covered 12 acres along Toronto's waterfront. The so-called "smart city" would have included towers made of timber, heated sidewalks and autonomous modes of transportation.
"For the last two-and-a-half years, we have been passionate about making Quayside happen -- indeed, we have invested time, people, and resources in Toronto, including opening a 30-person office on the waterfront," Sidewalk Labs' chief executive Dan Doctoroff said on Medium.
"But as unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community," he said.
Quayside, though, moved little over its two-plus years and faced local pushback, including concerns over governance, surveillance and privacy. Tech billionaire Jim Balsillie spoke out against the project, saying it was hurting Canada's own tech innovation and diverted the country's intellectual property to Alphabet.
Stephen Diamond, the chair of Waterfront Toronto, said it would look to new partners to develop the location.
"Quayside remains an excellent opportunity to explore innovative solutions for affordable housing, improved mobility, climate change, and several other pressing urban challenges that Toronto -- and cities around the world -- must address in order to continue to grow and succeed," Diamond said.
Sidewalk Toronto said at one time its project could create 44,000 full-time permanent jobs and generate $14.2 billion in annual gross domestic product by 2040. It said the project could become a global hub for urban innovation, anchored by a new Google campus, a new applied-research institute, and a new venture fund for Canadian companies.