Private Sector, Public Impact: Google Sidewalk Labs Exposed

April 3, 2024

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. EDT

Date: Wednesday, April 3, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Location: Ottawa Art Gallery, 10 Daly Ave. 

Speakers: Josh O’Kane (Speaker) and Sean Silcoff (Moderator). O’Kane is the author of Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy. Both speakers are journalists with the Globe and Mail newspaper. 

Cost: Free for students. ULI members: $15. Non-members: $20 

Registration required:

In 2017, a Google affiliate called Sidewalk Labs waltzed into Toronto with plans to reimagine urban planning “from the Internet up,” promising a utopia that would begin on 12 acres of brownfield land on Lake Ontario. What happened instead was a two-and-a-half-year battle over the future of cities and their development, data regulation, and the power of the private sector in the public realm.

In this session, Josh O’Kane, author of the best-selling book Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy, will unpack how Sidewalk struggled to translate its idealism into reality and the role of Canadian policy in that failure. In a fireside chat with Globe and Mail staff reporter Sean Silcoff, Josh will also reveal why the giants of Silicon Valley see cities as their next major frontier and what this means for the City of Ottawa as it strives to attract new tech investors.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism and ULI Ottawa. Associate Professor Benjamin Gianni and Instructor Dina Sarhane organized the event on behalf of ULI Ottawa.