Edmonton

Garneau residents oppose new frat house

Plans to build a new fraternity house just off the University of Alberta campus has some people in the Garneau neighbourhood up in arms.
Some Garneau residents oppose the Edmonton chapter of Phi Gamma Delta building a new fraternity house two blocks from its current location. (CBC)

Plans to build a new fraternity house just off the University of Alberta campus has some people in the Garneau neighbourhood up in arms.

The Edmonton chapter of Phi Gamma Delta is seeking a development permit to build a new two-storey, 10-room house on a lot it has purchased on 87th Avenue.

Many neighbours are worried about the plan.

Lisa McDermott, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 14 years, said the many frat houses in the area are already a source of problems in Garneau.

"We're very upset," she said. "They have parties that go well into the night. And they advertise cheap drinks so you have everybody — Tom, Dick and Harry — coming these events. 

"People then walking through the neighborhoods breaking windows on houses causing a lot of vandalism and just being very rude and aggressive."

Others though are more supportive.

"The last couple of years have been really good," said Phil Scalia who moved in across the street from the frat house with his family two years ago. "We knew getting in there's going to be parties. You buy in this neighbourhood, it's sort of part and parcel.

"It hasn't been an issue for us," he said. "There's no spike in vandalism. Generally it hasn't been louder than normal except this fall in September when the warm weather was there."

Phi Gamma Delta spokesman Barry Benkendorf said neighbours don’t have reason to be concerned.

He said the fraternity's current location on 89th Avenue has not disturbed the neighbourhood.

"I think we've proven that we've been good neighbors over the last 25 years," Benkendorf said.

There may be a stereotype of wild parties at frat houses, he said, but it isn’t fair to paint all groups with one brush.

"We don't really anticipate any problems with parties or alcohol being a big problem."

Anne de Villars, chair of the planning committee of the Garneau community league, said the area has had mixed experiences with fraternities and sororities.

She said that Phi Gamma Delta has followed the rules when it comes to seeking a development permit.

"With regard to this process of trying to find a new site where they can develop they have been very responsible," she said.

The group’s permit application will be reviewed by the city. If rejected, Phi Gamma Delta says it is prepared to appeal the ruling.