On Thursday, Saadia Muzaffar, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, resigned from Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel citing its failure to address fundamental issues with the Sidewalk Toronto project. Criticism of the partnership with Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to develop a “smart city” neighborhood on Toronto’s waterfront has been growing steadily over the past few months, and hopefully Muzaffar’s resignation will finally force Waterfront Toronto and the City to address it.
There is nothing innovative about city-building that disenfranchises its residents in insidious ways and robs valuable earnings out of public budgets, or commits scarce public funds to the ongoing maintenance of technology that city leadership has not even declared a need for.
In the aftermath, other advisors spoke out in support of Muzaffar
and the criticisms she leveled at Sidewalk Toronto. Jim Balsillie
, former CEO of Blackberry, also penned an op-ed
on Friday in which he echoed Muzaffar’s concerns and expanded on Waterfront Toronto’s failures.
It’s absolutely clear that Google
wants to integrate its tech into urban infrastructure
, but that doesn’t mean residents need to hand their cities to the massive tech giants and let them do whatever they want. Indeed, in Toronto there is a growing movement to get governments to develop their own tech instead of outsourcing that task to tech monopolies. Here’s hoping they succeed.