sidewalk labs toronto

Toronto's neighbourhood of the future will have trash-sucking garbage tubes

Power-brokers are laying down more and more of their cards as the deadline approaches for a decision about whether or not Sidewalk Labs will be moving forward with its controversial, high-tech and totally badass "city within a city" along Toronto's eastern waterfront.

Waterfront Toronto's advisory committee on the high-profile Sidewalk Toronto proposal just released a report that suggests things could go quite well for the New York-based urban innovation firm in terms of what it wants for Quayside.

The 60-page-long report, released on Tuesday, distills all of the ideas proposed in Sidewalk's gargantuan Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) down to just 160 core "solutions."

After assessing risks, issues, potential tradeoffs, public feedback and "analyzing the effectiveness of each solution in addressing to meeting pressing urban challenges," Waterfront Toronto has given the green light to a whopping 144 of the ideas proposed in the MIDP.

Only 16 ideas — including the wacky sounding "raincoats for buildings" and something called "sewage waste heat recovery" — were deemed unsupportable by the six-person advisory committee, which consists of Waterfront officials and infrastructure experts.

There is enough merit in at least 11 of the solutions that Waterfront Toronto has in fact pledged to help fund them.

The agency, comprised of municipal, provincial and federal representatives, has indicated for the rest of the 133 solutions that it will either support their inclusion with private funding, support regulatory changes for the solutions to work, or support the contribution of government funds toward the solutions.

You can read about all of the approved solutions and why they've been deemed worthy in the new Waterfront Toronto report, but the most likely to happen are those that the agency has pledged money toward.

Those innovations include heated, lighted, permeable modular hex pavement, a real-time digital 3D map of open space assets and a pneumatic waste collection system — or as I like to call them, garbage tubes.

"Sidewalk Labs proposes to install an underground pneumatic tube system that would vacuum waste from the three building chutes (recyclables, trash, organics) to the neighbourhood's collection point," writes the company in Volume 2 of its Quayside MIDP.

"The pneumatic system would use pipes to send waste at up to 70 kilometres per hour."

Waterfront Toronto's advisory committee likes the idea, as would any logical group who thinks high-speed garbage tubes equipped with utility sensors sound cool and also convenient.

"A proven technology in Europe, vacuum tubes collect waste, recycling, and organic waste streams, reducing what goes into landfill," reads the agency's report. "The system also keeps garbage trucks off the streets, making them safer."

Less garbage trucks, more trash-sucking "down the hole" action?

Should Waterfront Toronto and the alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs reach an agreement to move forward with the Quayside project before their set deadline of May 20, 2020, pneumatic trash tubes could very well be a thing in Toronto.

I, for one, cannot wait to start throwing my well-sorted trash, organics and recycling into the trash-sucking holes of Toronto's eastern waterfront.

Lead photo by

Sidewalk Toronto


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