U of A Issues

In 1973, a revised University Long Range Plan showed a 50% cut in the number of students anticipated, compared with the 1961 plan. Most of the original houses in the area between 111th and 110th street still stood and were being rented to students. Some had been already demolished because they were too dilapidated to maintain, due in part to tenant vandalism." Others such as the home of former Edmonton's Mayor D.M.Duggan, were it is believed destoyed by the university to prevent them from being historically designated by heritage organizations. "A subsequent proposal by the university administration to tear down all the houses for a "community park" was thwarted by a University Senate Committee.

Despite an attempt to have the area declared a provincial historic site in the 1970's, about 20 houses made way for new housing for the Universiade Games in 1981. But essentially, a large number of the family homes that were taken "for immediate university development" at such financial and emotional cost, have remained untouched."

UofA Garneau Grab

In September, 2001, the University attempted to expand into the remaining corner of North Garneau. Again, we will quote from Ms Cruden's article:

"In September 2001, the University of Alberta unveiled three options for its Long-Range Development Plan . Predicting a growth in enrolment and research, it wishes to increase its facilities by up to 40% over the next decade. One of the options includes the "acquisition" of the rest of North Garneau. For those of us with an interest in local history, this seems very familiar. It has all happened before. Community response to the university's most recent proposal has been significantly different from that in the 1960's. Garneau home and business owners lobbied through the media, gaining both political and popular support. We put up signs and organized letter-writing campaigns and petitions. We have pledged to sell our properties only to non-institutional buyers. If the university tries to expropriate us we will take the matter to court, as there is plenty of university-land  available for expansion now. We have also identified and municipally listed several heritage homes and are working towards provincial designation for significant Garneau buildings."

We have learned these lessons from the past:

  • Be skeptical of long term enrolment and growth projections by optimistic university administration or consultants.
  • Identify possible heritage buildings and have them evaluated for provincial designation [ Municipal designation does not provide the same degree of protection against demolition.]
  • Get your municipal and provincial politicians on side.
  • Do whatever it takes to stop or stall demolition. As Garneau history shows, a small delay in demolition may give a building an additional 30 years of useful life and eventually lead to the realization that these, now rare, homes are worth preserving.

Under the final version of the University of Alberta's Long-Range Plan, unveiled June 21st 2002, buying up further land in Garneau is no longer being considered. However, the houses and trees in the university owned part of the neighbourhood are slated for destruction over the next ten years to make way for a parkade , a road, an office block, and a high-rise student residence. The battle continues."

Saving the Best of the Past for the Future
email: doug.gorman at preservegarneau dot org