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Google firm to develop Canadian light rail scheme

Toronto LRT

Google’s parent company is planning to build an extension to Toronto’s light rail transit (LRT) system.

The project is being developed by Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Alphabet, the same firm which owns Google. The firm develops technology to improve urban infrastructure, covering areas such as construction methods and transport. This work is being concentrated in the development of a 350-acre site in Toronto’s Port Lands area to create a huge new “smart” district, which will also include a new Canadian-headquarters for Google. 

It has linked up to work on the development with Waterfront Toronto, a public advocacy group created by the governments of Canada and Ontario, to deliver the plans. Sidewalk’s plans for the development include mass timber construction for buildings, streets designed for autonomous vehicles as well as an autonomous underground freight system.  

The plans also include financing an extension to the city’s light rapid transit (LRT) system to connect Toronto Quayside with Union Station and East Harbour.  

When complete, the LRT extension will be operated by a public agency.   

Sidewalk claims its concept would enable the LRT extension to attract funding “years, if not decades” earlier. Candian media has reported that Sidewalk will fund the LRT extension in return for a cut of property taxes and increased land prices around the new LRT stations.

Sidewalk is currently hosting public forums for locals to give feedback on its plans for the area.  

Courtyard in the planned Quayside District

Source: Picture plane for Heatherwick studio

A community business organisation, the Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA) recently commissioned a report on the impact of an extension of the LRT system to Toronto’s East harbour.  

The report says that the extension could unlock new office and housing space to accommodate 1.3M.m2 of retail space, 130,000 new jobs, and 67,000 new residents. 

Another 19km light rail line is already under construction in western Toronto as the fifth line of the existing subway system.  

The line is beig built by Metrolinx and will connect Mount Dennis station to Sunnybrook Park and Kennedy at a cost of $5.3bn (£4.1bn). 

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