Alphabet to develop high-tech waterfront site in Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian authorities on Tuesday tapped Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) to help plan a mixed-use development along Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront using cutting-edge digital technologies and urban design.

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs unit, which is developing new technologies for use in “smart cities,” said it would invest $ 50 million in the initial phase of the project, which will create a new neighborhood in the city called Quayside.

Google said it would move its Canadian headquarters and some 300 employees to the district, once it is completed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced the partnership with Google, said he hoped that Quayside would become “a thriving hub for innovation and a community for tens of thousands of people to live, work and play.”

It is Sidewalk Labs’ most ambitious project to date.

The Google unit has previously worked with Qualcomm Inc and Civiq Smartscapes to retrofit New York City phone booths into digital billboards that serve as WiFi hotspots.

Intersection, the Sidewalk Labs subsidiary behind the effort, recently launched similar kiosks in London. Another division, Flow, has held talks with cities such as Columbus, Ohio, about providing software to evaluate transit programs.

Reporting Alastair Sharp in Toronto, additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Paul Simao and Steve Orlofsky