Renewed calls to suspend demolition of University of Alberta Ring Houses
EDMONTON -- There's a renewed call to save the University of Alberta's historic Ring Houses after they were added to the National Trust Endangered Places List.
The National Trust for Canada's list was created to "shine a national spotlight on heritage places at risk."
The four stately homes known as the Ring Houses have been in Edmonton for a century. There were originally 10 houses when they were built for some of the U of A's first presidents and professors.
The latest Edmontonian to fight the impeding demolition is former City Councillor and past University Board of Governors chair Michael Phair.
"The style of the houses and how they were built and how they were used all tell the story of the University of Alberta," said Phair.
The call to save the buildings came first and fittingly from the institution's history department last month.
"There's very keen public interest in these particular buildings," said U of A history professor Ryan Dunch.
A petition started in February calling on the University to suspend the demolition now has over 2,300 signatures.
The University said due to major budget cuts the millions of dollars to keep the houses from crumbling just isn't available.
"They will deteriorate and I don't want safety issues causing impacts to our community," said Andrew Sharman Vice-President of Facilities and Operations.
But the University is also considering offers to buy the Ring Houses for $1 each, plus the costs of moving them off the school's property.
Critics of the University's plans to move the buildings say that while it might save the structures it completely destroys their historical value.
"They speak about the University and the University of Alberta and moving them… they're no longer historical in the same kind of way," said Phair.
Phair is hoping the continued public appeal will resonate with the University to give the century-old houses just a little more time to find a solution.
"To try to get the University to wait for at least a year so we could look at what else might be possible."
The University of Alberta told CTV News Edmonton that talks with interested applicants continue.
The Ring Houses are scheduled to be demolished in May if a solution can't be reached.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk.