Ontario government fires 3 directors after Google deal


Ontario's provincial government has fired three board members from a government organization working with a Google-affiliated company to create a smart-city development in Toronto. The move raises doubt about the development's future.

Monte McNaughton, Ontario's minister of infrastructure, said in a statement Friday that he informed the three provincial appointees he was bringing new leadership to the Waterfront Toronto board. 

Waterfront Toronto chair Helen Burstyn confirmed late Thursday that she, Michael Nobrega and Meric Gertler have been removed from the board.

A unit of Google's parent company Alphabet is proposing to turn a rundown part of the city's waterfront into what may be the most wired community in history.

Sidewalk Labs has partnered with Waterfront Toronto on plans to erect mid-rise apartments, offices, shops and a school on a 12-acre (4.9-hectare) site — a first step toward what it hopes will eventually be a 800-acre (325-hectare) development.

An audit by Ontario's auditor general said this week the deal was rushed. It also said there were cost overruns at the government agency on other projects.

Burstyn said she has no regrets about the partnership with the Google affiliate which still requires final approval by the board, which has four representatives each from the city, province and federal governments

"We did everything right. There were lots of claims about things being too rushed. Where we saw things as being too rushed, we slowed things down," she said.

But McNaughton said he was "shocked to learn the board was given one weekend to examine the most important transaction in its history before being asked to approve it."

He also said the board failed to properly consult with the province and the city on the project, which was heavily promoted by federal officials. He said he wouldn't "speculate on what will happen in the future" with the development.

"I can tell you that our actions will be guided by three principles: respect for taxpayer dollars, strong oversight and the protection of people's privacy," he said.

Complaints about the proposed development prompted Waterfront Toronto to re-do the agreement over the summer to ensure a greater role for the official agency. Earlier this year a prominent Toronto developer resigned from the Waterfront Toronto board over the project.

Some Canadians are rethinking the privacy implications of giving one of the most data-hungry companies on the planet the means to wire up everything from street lights to pavement. And some want the public to get a cut of the revenue from products developed using Canada's largest city as an urban laboratory. The concerns have intensified following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and Google.

Among other things, the development plans to have heated streets to melt ice and snow on contact, as well as sensors that would monitor traffic and protect pedestrians.


Reader Comments


Next Up in

CareSource gets latest report card from state
CareSource gets latest report card from state

CareSource’s performance rating slipped in some categories on its latest report card from Ohio Medicaid, though retained high marks for its efforts to keep children healthy. The nonprofit insurer, headquartered in downtown Dayton, overall received 14 out of 25 stars, ranking 3rd out of the five insurers that privately manage Medicaid plans in...
Trump nominates new commander of Air Force Materiel Command
Trump nominates new commander of Air Force Materiel Command

President Donald Trump has nominated Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr. to become commander of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Bunch currently serves as military deputy at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition at the Pentagon. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, Bunch...
Dayton VA director says hospital to focus on new jobs, programs in 2019
Dayton VA director says hospital to focus on new jobs, programs in 2019

Dayton VA Medical Center Director Jill Dietrich told the Dayton Daily News that she’s focused on growing new programs, adding jobs and “continuing to provide excellent care” in 2019. Dietrich, who manages 2,300 employees and a $435 million budget, has oversight of the sprawling hospital campus in Dayton and four clinics in in Richmond...
Honda applies to build $36.5 million expansion
Honda applies to build $36.5 million expansion

Honda appears to be gearing up for a big expansion at its Anna engine plant. The automaker has recently applied to Shelby County for a new building construction permit valued at $33 million. The Honda of America and Devon Industrial Group application — filed near the end of November — seeks permission to build a 119,063-square-foot building...
Employers say they’re poised to hire in 2019
Employers say they’re poised to hire in 2019

Employers in the Dayton area will hire at a “respectable” pace in the first quarter of the new year, according to Manpower’s newest survey of area employers. Nearly a quarter — 24 percent — of surveyed employers plan to hire new employees from January to March next year, the survey found. This number is offset by the four...
More Stories