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Red Deer Byelection profile: Linda Cullen-Saik

Linda Cullen-Saik is a candidate in Red Deer’s upcoming byelection. (Contributed photo)

A former visual arts instructor at Red Deer Polytechnic and a candidate in Red Deer’s upcoming byelection wants to bring a splash of colour to the city’s downtown.

Linda Cullen-Saik is one of the 10 people vying for a vacant seat on council in the April 22 byelection. She said that she believes municipal leaders must communicate complex issues clearly, listen actively to constituents’ concerns and make decisions with the community’s best interests at heart.

“I am interested in things that build relationships, promote community and bring joy to the human spirit,” said Cullen-Saik.

“In times of stress and uncertainty, it’s common for people to retreat into their own perspectives and become less tolerant of differing opinions or viewpoints. I believe building empathy and fostering open-mindedness are crucial in overcoming these divisions.”

Cullen-Saik is a mother of four children, one of whom passed away in October 2022, and has seven grandchildren. In addition to spending five years as an instructor in the Visual Arts department at RDP, then Red Deer College, she spent 12 years as an events co-ordinator at CrossRoads Church. In 2018, she earned her Masters degree in urban planning at the University of Calgary.

“In terms of urban revitalization, we need to ask ourselves what are some strategies we could employ to turnaround our declining downtown, knowing that downtown areas play a special role in the overall success of a community as they can typically be both the commercial and civic centre of a city.”

Cullen-Saik said downtown Red Deer is dark, quiet and “basically uninhabited” after 6 p.m., with the exception of the Ross Street Patio.

“We could preserve the history of downtown and look at new uses for our beautiful historic buildings – let’s practice some adaptive reuse of vacant spaces for new purposes: co-working spaces, live/work units, art galleries, music and theatre venues, new restaurants, bakeries, specialty shops,” said Cullen-Saik.

“Let’s light it up, add some parklets with seating, perhaps a small park for kids to play in while their parents enjoy a coffee or an ice-cream. We have some vacant lots downtown, why not look at some medium-density housing typologies that are smaller in scale. We could purposefully create areas that promote a sense of community, that are cozy yet don’t overwhelm the character of the area.”

Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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