Cranbrook, BC (May 17, 2023) – After a robust recruitment process, the City of Cranbrook is pleased to announce the hiring of Marcel Germer as the City’s new Social Development Coordinator, who begins her new role today.
Cranbrook is experiencing significant changes in the social fabric of the community regarding social challenges with homelessness, also addictions and crime. There are provincial programs responsible for delivering homelessness associated social support services, and other provincially or otherwise funded non-profit organizations in place in Cranbrook working to manage this growing issue. Many of these programs and non-profits are struggling to meet the growing and changing needs of the community.
The City is working to coordinate and bring together all these programs and agencies through the Social Development Coordinator to help fill service gaps, while working proactively with them to help identify emerging issues and collaboratively create plans to manage these issues, while helping reduce the impacts on our bylaw services, RCMP, and Fire & Emergency Services.
Germer, who has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, brings over 30 years of professional experience in the Human Service field to this role. She has worked for the past 13 years with Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services, six years as a social worker then seven years in a supervisory role. She has also worked as a coordinator with Summit Community Services Society, along with both the East Kootenay Brain Injury and PARTY program.
“I feel extremely proud to be living in a City that is willing to take a proactive and positive approach to addressing an important societal concern such as homelessness,” Germer says. “My goal as the Social Development Coordinator is to first understand all the amazing supports and resources Cranbrook offers, streamline what is already working well to build a strong continuity of services, and engage all areas of the community in finding solutions to minimize service gaps and the resulting impacts on the community.”
Council approved an early budget request for $50,000 to create this position back in March 2023. A portion of this position is also being funded by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK). The RDEK Board approved funding of $85,000 to go toward the role, following approval of their 5 Year Financial Plan on March 17, 2023. The City of Cranbrook is grateful for the support of the RDEK and surrounding communities in helping to fund this position.
Council directed staff in March 2023 to include $50,000 for 2024 and $50,000 for 2025 in the budget process for Council consideration in those budget years for this role to have a 3-year term. Similarly, those future years funding from the RDEK will be considered by the RDEK Board through their budget process in 2024 and 2025. This funding will support Phase 1 of a two-phase approach that the City is taking to begin to manage the growing social issues that under the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments, however, the City will take a more active role in coordination of the actual outcomes of these services in the City.
In Phase 1 of this role, the Social Development Coordinator will take the lead in areas of homelessness that impact municipal services as the increased workload to Bylaw Services, Fire & Emergency Services and the RCMP.
Phase 2 will utilize grant funding from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for additional resources to help move beyond the daily issues with more secure, long-term funding. The East Kootenay Collaborative for Reducing Poverty held a two-day conference October 28 and 29, 2022 at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook supported through the Chamber of Commerce to hear about innovative programs and projects that have been developed in other communities and develop key recommendations for this area.
This second phase recognizes the recommendation from that conference. This Social Integration Specialist – a separate contract position funded through the UBCM in addition to the City’s Social Development Coordinator. This second position will investigate things like housing attainability and land use, social planning, complex needs, homelessness, shelter services, transitional housing, poverty and harm reduction, vulnerable populations, community health and wellness, food security and community building. Recommendations on policy and future programming priorities are also important outcomes. This second phase will operate under a non-profit model similar to the City of Vernon.
“Homelessness is an indication of the health of a City,” Germer says, adding, “I believe Cranbrook has the capacity and desire to create a community where everyone has a safe place to call home.”
To learn more about the City’s overall Poverty Reduction Project in Phase 2, visit our ‘Poverty Reduction Project’ webpage @ https://cranbrook.ca/our-city/city-departments/corporate-services-1/poverty-reduction-project.