In the last few weeks, Ryerson CBI has participated in several tours of the Sidewalk Labs “307” presentation centre with Ryerson staff, faculty and students. We organized these tours as a special opportunity for hands-on learning about the innovations involved in the Sidewalk Labs smart city proposal for Toronto’s Quayside neighbourhood, and its potential impact on Toronto.
In total, we joined over 175 members of the Ryerson community on these tours, which were hosted by Mary-Margaret McMahon, Sidewalk Labs’ Director of Community.
As Mary-Margaret showcased the elements of Sidewalk Labs’ proposal, she highlighted standout features on display, such as flexible floorplans and outdoor amenities friendly to local arts, culture and business. She pointed out that many innovations included in the plan have been borrowed from other places, such as an environmentally-friendly Japanese alternative to drywall, and other eras, like the proposed indoor/underground goods delivery system, which updates urban freight systems from the previous centuries.
The tours allowed students to connect ideas they’re learning about in the classroom to a process happening, on the ground, in the city. Students in different programs had the opportunity to zoom in on aspects of the plan; architecture students were interested in the properties of cross-laminated timber and digital electricity, students of urban planning focused on housing affordability details, and geography students asked questions about the development’s connection to Lake Ontario.
As the proposal edges forward–Waterfront Toronto recently pushed back its deadline to decide whether the plan goes forward to May 20–meetings like these are important to spread awareness and create pathways to participate in ongoing conversations and public consultations, especially among students, the leaders of the future.