Tara Lodewyk will officially start in the city manager’s position at the City of Red Deer in July. She was previously acting as interim city manager. (Contributed photo).

Tara Lodewyk will officially start in the city manager’s position at the City of Red Deer in July. She was previously acting as interim city manager. (Contributed photo).

‘I believe our future is bright,’ says Red Deer’s new city manager, Tara Lodewyk

The city’s Vision 2040 guide to the future is coming out this fall

Red Deer’s new city manager Tara Lodewyk pledged to work hard to help all Red Deerians take as much pride in their city as she already feels on a daily basis.

“I am so grateful to live in Red Deer. I have a lot of love for this city and for our people,” said Lodewyk during her first press conference on Monday after being named this municipality’s first-ever female city manager.

Mayor Ken Johnston praised Lodewyk’s dedication and passion for the city since she arrived 22 years ago from Saskatchewan. “She has extraordinary humanity. I’ve seen the tears, the exhaustion, the excitement and enthusiasm…”

Lodewyk joined the City of Red Deer in 2010 and has held managerial positions in planning, development, and protective services. She was asked to fill in as interim city manager when Allan Seabrooke retired over a year ago, and Johnston feels she’s already shown great leadership in helping navigate the City of Red Deer through trying pandemic times.

“I’m extremely confident…that our tradition of strong city leadership will continue,” under such a dedicated community-builder, added the mayor.

Lodewyk thanked her supportive team, and said she hoped all Red Deerians will become “ambassadors for our city,” spreading positivity that could help attract more employers and tourists to the region.

“People often tend to focus on the negative” but if they travelled to other places, “they would see how good we have it here,” she added.

While Lodewyk acknowledged there are many local issues to tackle — getting the permanent shelter built, the need for downtown rejuvenated, seeing the hospital finally expanded by 2030 and new justice centre opened, as well as getting the Capstone development going, and resolving social problems at the city’s core — she doesn’t feel any of this is insurmountable.

“We can do tough things if we work together,” she said.

This fall, city council will review the new Vision 2040 plan — a guide to help shape Red Deer’s growth and development over the next 20 years. Lodewyk said details for future planning priorities will be in that document.

She intends to immediately start building connections with surrounding municipalities and various community groups, helping reinforce that this city is a welcoming and inclusive community. Lodewyk said this includes working on Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations with local indigenous groups.

The pandemic has caused a lot of dissent and polarization in society, said Lodewyk, who believes now is the time to build bridges and heal from the strife.

When asked to share her vision of Red Deer over the next few decades, she spoke of getting a local stop in the ultra high-speed tube-train link between Edmonton and Calgary, which would enable local residents to work in the large centres while still enjoying a higher quality of life here.

City officials are already speaking with Transpod Inc. and other companies involved with this project to lobby for a Red Deer station, said Lodewyk.

She also envisions having a thriving, culture-rich downtown “with places where we can come together as a community,” as well as a more residential development in the Capstone neighbourhood and ongoing activities near the river.

Lodewyk said the city has had many phone calls of interest in new Capstone developments from within the city and other communities. But many developers are waiting for the impacts of inflation and supply shortages to stabilize before putting in proposals.

A Downtown Identity plan is now being created with community input, and will be revealed to city council this summer to help set the course, said Lodewyk. City Council is also expected to choose a location for the permanent homeless shelter in mid-July.

Lodewyk wants Red Deer to become known as “the place to do business,” as well as for its extensive trail system and recreational opportunities to draw more visitors.

Among the many exciting things already happening is turning former Michener Centre land into an expansion of the city’s parks system, she added.

”I believe our future is bright.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Tara Lodewyk, seen here with Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, will officially start as city manager of the City of Red Deer in July. She was previously acting as interim city manager. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Tara Lodewyk, seen here with Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, will officially start as city manager of the City of Red Deer in July. She was previously acting as interim city manager. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).