George Brown College and Waterfront Toronto host Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow for East Bayfront boat tour

Group shot during Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow's waterfront boat tour, November 7, 2023

George Brown College (GBC) and Waterfront Toronto hosted Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow for a boat tour of the fast-growing East Bayfront community. The event stressed the importance of building transit to connect new and existing educational, business and residential developments as growth ramps up with tens of thousands of new residents and jobs expected in the area. 

Mayor Chow and Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik joined the one-hour tour on November 7 ahead of a Toronto City Council vote on $65 million in planning funds for the proposed Waterfront East light-rail transit (LRT) line. That line would run right past GBC’s three Waterfront Campus buildings and our student residence, The George. 

The East Bayfront neighbourhood expects to support 130,000 new residents and 50,000 jobs. Thousands of members of the GBC community currently energize the area. 

"We need transportation."

“As you can see, the waterfront is vibrant, and George Brown College is so much a part of it,” GBC President Dr. Gervan Fearon said as the boat cruised past the college’s Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences and the mass-timber net-zero carbon emissions building Limberlost Place, currently under construction. 

“We have nearly 9,000 students and employees who come down to the waterfront almost every day to live, work, play, and train for the future. For George Brown College to be part of the future of the downtown core and the growth, we need transportation.” 

GBC helped transform the East Bayfront from an underutilized former industrial zone to a vibrant mixed-use community with the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences opening in 2012. In 2016, we opened The George student residence. In 2018, the School of Design moved into the Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts complex, and in January 2025, Limberlost Place will open to students.  

Learn more about Waterfront Campus. 

"Great cities need to think big."

Representatives from other organizations with a vested interest in the East Bayfront, including CreateTO, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and the Waterfront Business Improvement Association, were also onboard the cruise. Waterfront Toronto’s Chief Planning and Design Officer Chris Glaisek called out area highlights, including the Waterfront Innovation Centre, Bayside and Quayside developments and ambitious and iconic parks and public spaces like Parliament Slip and Villiers Island

As the cruise wrapped up, Mayor Chow voiced her support for the Waterfront East LRT project and said she could imagine herself using the transit line to enjoy the area—to have a meal, watch the sunset and spend time with her grandchildren in the planned public spaces. 

“Public transit builds communities,” Chow said, adding the East Bayfront will be a complete neighbourhood where people of all income levels can live, work and play. 

“Many years ago, there was a tripartite (waterfront) agreement between the three levels of government. That was a big hurdle, and it took a long time. It happened, and the stars aligned. I believe the stars are aligning again, with the private and public sectors coming together," she said. "We have a vision. We have a beautiful sketched-out dream of what it could be, and we have the design of the Waterfront East LRT.”  

GBC’s Senior Vice-President of External Relations, Communications and Real Estate Development, Joe Cressy, told the crowd that “great cities need to think big.”  

“The conditions for success on the waterfront are all here. We have a vision. We have partnerships. We have Waterfront Toronto and CreateTO as entities to help lead the way,” he said. “And next, to make it happen, we have a light-rail transit line to fill in the gaps.”