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Auditor general’s report urges province to ‘reassess’ Quayside project

December 6, 2018 12:23 AM
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“We were out there talking to quite a number of potential proponents for this,” Meg Davis, chief development officer for Waterfront Toronto, said in an interview.

Waterfront Toronto said that in the appendix to Lysyk’s audit she herself noted Waterfront Toronto launched “market soundings” with 50, local, national and international companies to gauge interest in innovation at Quayside.

Former associate chief justice of Ontario and former Ontario integrity commissioner, Coulter Osborne who was appointed Waterfront Toronto’s “fairness adviser” for the Quayside RFP, said in statement that he has reviewed the auditor’s findings and is “satisfied that Waterfront Toronto successfully took all reasonable steps to ensure that the Quayside procurement proceeded on the basis that no proponent or potential proponent secured any unfair advantage.”

Lysyk also sounded privacy concerns around Sidewalk Labs’ approach to data collection.

In a timeline of the Quayside project, Lysyk noted that before the issuing of the RFP the then-CEO for Waterfront Toronto wrote an internal email saying that Google had said it wants to control “all the data” at Quayside. The CEO said this could present concerns around individual privacy and the control of the data.

Micah Lasher, head of policy and communications for Sidewalk Labs, took issue with the comments Wednesday saying the company was interested from early on in the idea of a civic data trust — an independent third party that would control data pertaining to Quayside and ensure privacy is protected.

Sidewalk Labs has called for the formation of the trust as part of its “digital governance proposals” for Quayside.

Julie Di Lorenzo, a developer and former Waterfront Toronto board member who resigned earlier this year over the corporation’s involvement with the Sidewalk project, said the governance model of Waterfront Toronto does not allow adequate transparency on critical business.

“No one voted to allow Waterfront Toronto to offer up its assets and its rights and unbelievably, the residents of this city as a "test bed,” for Sidewalk Labs,” she added.

Commenting on the overall report, Mayor John Tory said he understands the auditor general’s concerns around transparency of the process and data privacy.

“I believe the AG has offered recommendations which will help address those concerns and I further believe that Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs are both dedicated to addressing those concerns,” Tory said.

City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Waterfront Toronto’s board and often a vocal critic of the corporation’s spending and transparency, said, “My concerns about Waterfront Toronto are well known, (and) there is a great deal of room for improvement. I look forward to hearing (Infrastructure) Minister Monte McNaughton’s plans for Waterfront Toronto.”


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