Google sister firm eyes timber en masse for Toronto complex

Sources: Sidewalk Labs LLC, New York; CP staff

Mass timber is the structural material of choice for low to high rise buildings in a Toronto waterfront development championed by investor Sidewalk Labs, an urban environment-driven business under Google parent company Alphabet Inc. A Master Innovations and Development Plan tracks work through 2040 for the Sidewalk Toronto project.


“The successful execution of the highly detailed plan would produce the most innovative district in the world. Across nearly every dimension of urban life—mobility, sustainability, public realm, buildings, and digital innovation—the plan breaks new ground. That includes the first neighborhood built entirely of mass timber,” the firm notes, characterizing the material as “easier to manufacture and better for the environment than concrete or steel, yet just as strong and fire-resistant.”

Sidewalk Labs would help underwrite a factory sourcing Canadian timber to fabricate “a library of building parts. Such a factory would catalyze a new Ontario-based sustainable timber industry and create roughly 2,500 jobs over 20 years.” The firm would participate with local developers and government agencies in a 20-year Sidewalk Toronto build out, to include a new Canadian headquarters for Google.

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff cites a $1.3 billion commitment to building investment and project support functions. In a late-June blog post announcing the 1,500-page “Toronto Tomorrow: A New Approach for Inclusive Growth” plan, posted here, he describes “a groundbreaking project that generates an extraordinary number of jobs and economic benefits for Torontonians, while achieving new levels of environmental sustainability, pioneering a 21st-century mobility network, producing record numbers of affordable housing, and establishing a new model for urban innovation.”