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Sidewalk Labs lays off about 20 workers after T.O. smart city plan collapses


NEW YORK — Sidewalk Labs says it has laid off just under 20 workers, a month after abandoning its plan to build a smart city in Toronto.

The New York-based Google affiliate did not disclose an exact number of employees or the reason for the move, but said several of the workers are based in Canada.

The company walked away in May from its plans to build a neighbourhood with affordable housing, tall timber structures, heated pavement and "raincoats for buildings" on Toronto's waterfront.

At the time, it said unprecedented economic uncertainty around the world and in the Toronto real estate market made the project too difficult to be financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the smart city.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Sidewalk Labs says it remains committed to reimagining cities, but has narrowed its focus to include factory-made mass timber buildings and a digital master-planning tool designed to help developers and communities achieve shared objectives.

The company said it is sad that this shift in focus means it will say goodbye to "some of our incredibly talented team members," but noted that some of its Toronto staff will remain with the business.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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