Toronto poised to reap rewards of Google's waterfront plans

By Staff

Torontonians and Canadians have much to gain from Google’s development plans for the Port Lands section of the city’s waterfront, Toronto immigration lawyer Matthew Jeffery tells

According to a CBC report, the search engine giant’s sister company Sidewalk Labs, which is backed by Alphabet Inc., proposes to create a high-tech “smart city” in Toronto’s downtown core, incorporating transit and underground infrastructure.

The plans would also see the company’s Canadian headquarters moved to the nearby Villiers Island, where a Google campus would be constructed.

“From an immigration perspective, people should recognize the tremendous draw that such a project would have in encouraging the best and brightest from around the world to want to come and work and live in Canada,” says Jeffery, who operates the immigration-focused Matthew Jeffery Barrister & Solicitor office in Toronto.

If Alphabet's plans come to fruition, the company will oversee the construction of a light rail system that could encourage the further development of as much as 800 acres of mostly unused waterfront land.

“All of this is extremely exciting to the people of Toronto who are eager to see the innovative and transformative technologies that Google is planning to use in its smart city project,” Jeffery says. “Certainly the project will create many thousands of jobs, of which a significant number will be in the high-tech industry, requiring all kinds of engineers, IT workers and technicians, as well as skilled tradesmen in construction.

“New immigrants to the country, as well as Canadians generally, will benefit from this,” he adds.

In addition to its infrastructural proposals, Alphabet also wants to build thousands of residential units, according to news reports.

“In a city that is currently very short of affordable housing for new immigrants, this will contribute to allowing those new to the city to find a place to live and work at the same time,” Jeffery says.

While the project has generated controversy over the potential ownership and use of data collected, Jeffery says privacy concerns have been “overblown,” and are outweighed by the "huge" overall economic benefits promised by the project.

“The kind of data that Google intends to collect has more to do with traffic flows and the pedestrian use of space,” he explains. “It will largely be anonymous data, collected for the purpose of improving Toronto infrastructure in order to make city life safer, more convenient, and more functional.”

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