Posted 24 October 2019
Group of ACORN members, Block Sidewalk and other allies delivererd a letter to the Waterfront Toronto Board and got a meeting on the spot with the Board Chair Stephen Diamond and CEO George Zegarac!
The members leveraged a meeting with the members of the Waterfront Toronto Board to share our concerns over the development of Toronto’s Waterfront. Waterfront Toronto, a government body which was set up with the mandate to revitalize a vast area of our waterfront, is going to take an important decision on 31st October 2019. We need to take action now to stop our city land being sold out to Sidewalk Labs (Google) - a big tech company, that will prioritize corporate profit over the needs of the city.
A delegation of 20 ACORN members and allies presented our concerns to the Waterfront Board today. ACORN member Alejandra Ruiz-Vargas highlighted the issues with respect to the proposed development plan submitted by the Sidewalk Labs and also presented our demands. In addition, more than 100 people have responded to the online action initiated by ACORN and sent emails to Waterfront Toronto urging them to reconsider the Sidewalk Labs Plan.
ACORN members and its allies are fighting for REAL Affordable housing, NOT luxury housing; Digital EQUITY NOT mass surveillance; DECENT Jobs NOT more job insecurity; GREATER government accountability NOT private ownership of public services; and GREATER transparency!
Waterfront Toronto welcomed our suggestions and reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the rights of all people and holding public consultations at all stages of this development.
Waterfront Toronto will most likely be putting out a report in public on 31st October providing some clarity on what its plans are in reference to its present negotiations with Sidewalk Labs.
We need to be on the look out for this development closely as it concerns all of us in Canada. If you would like to send a letter to Waterfront Toronto or your City Councillor, click here
Here are our list of concerns:
- The Sidewalk Lab’s plan proposes only 5% real affordable housing on public land worth over 600 million dollars, (the rest of the claimed “affordable housing is at 99% AMR or higher!!
- The company will be gathering tons of our personal data via mass surveillance compromising our rights to privacy, equality, non-discrimination, freedom of expression and freedom of association. Members of marginalized communities may get especially targeted.
- The plan proposes developing a fourth level of government, essentially suggesting a private and profit-driven governance model driving public services like transit and health care!
- Despite huge claims over job creation, there are no job targets and no actual plans for purposeful job creation. Moreover, there are serious concerns over the job contracts as most jobs created by Big Data companies rely on are precarious, where women and racialized workers are overrepresented.
- This is a complete land grab as Google wants to expand its 'Smart City' plans well beyond Quayside and acquire an additional 18 acres of public land, that is outside of Waterfront Toronto’s authority. Moreover, it has asked for 500 million discount to acquire the land which will siphon off millions of public monies. Underdeveloped areas of the city will get even more deprioritized.
- The entire process up until now has been flawed and completely non-transparent, right from selection of Sidewalk Lab, it becoming a “lead developer” from a “partner” to getting independent reviewers of the plan into confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements. Even the so called public consultations have been solely marketing campaigns and the negotiations between Waterfront and the company have all been closed doors!