Toronto approves Google's surveillance city, despite leaks revealing Orwellian plans

Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto unanimously approved the continuation of Sidewalk Labs's plans for "Quayside," a privatised, surveillance-oriented "smart city" that has been mired in controversy since its earliest days, including secret bullying campaigns, mass resignations of privacy advisors, lies that drastically understated the scope of the project, civil liberties lawsuits, and denunciations by the indigenous elders who were consulted on the project.

The vote came one day after the Globe and Mail reported on a leaked document that showed that the company had initially planned to build an autonomous corporate-owned city, with private taxation, private roads, charter schools, corporate cops and judges, and punishments for people who choose privacy.

Sidewalk Labs is a division of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

The approval came after Sidewalk Labs made some concessions, agreeing to scale back Quayside to the initial 4.8 hectare sight, not the 77-hectare site the company secretly secured permission to build on and then lied about. It also promised to follow Canadian data-protection laws, including storing data from the project in Canadian data-centres.

Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement welcoming news of the vote result.

"We all know that we must develop our waterfront in the right way — that's why we are moving through this process so carefully," Tory said.

"I believe this process has led to an exciting proposal for Quayside that has the potential to create new jobs and economic development opportunities, a carbon-neutral neighbourhood, and more affordable housing units. It is a real opportunity for Toronto."

Waterfront Toronto board votes to keep Sidewalk Labs' Quayside project alive [CBC]