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Cranbrook welcomes new Social Development Coordinator

The City of Cranbrook has chosen someone to become its Social Development Coordinator, who started in her new role on Wednesday.

Marcel Germer will step into the position with a master’s degree in clinical psychology and brings over 30 years of professional experience in the Human Service field with her.

“Homelessness is an indication of the health of a City,” said Germer. “I believe Cranbrook has the capacity and desire to create a community where everyone has a safe place to call home.”

City officials said the role arises from the changing social structure of the community, as Cranbrook is confronted with homelessness, addictions and crime.

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“There are provincial programs responsible for delivering homelessness-associated social support services, and other provincially or otherwise funded nonprofit organizations in place in Cranbrook working to manage this growing issue,” said city staff. “Many of these programs and non-profits are struggling to meet the growing and changing needs of the community.”

The City will work to coordinate programs and agencies within the community through Germer’s position as the Social Development Coordinator to help fill any gaps in service.

She will also be working with organizations proactively to help them find emerging issues and create collaborative plans to manage them.

City officials said this will also help reduce impacts on Cranbrook’s bylaw services, RCMP, and Fire & Emergency Services.

Germer boasts a resume with 13 years of experience with Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services, six years as a social worker and seven years in a supervisory role. She has also worked as a coordinator with Summit Community Services Society, and both the East Kootenay Brain Injury and PARTY programs.

“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.”

The opening was created through a motion by Cranbrook City council in March, where members gave early budget approval for $50,000 to create the full-time position.

Cranbrook council also directed staff to include $50,000 per year for 2024 and 2025 in the budget to ensure this role has a three-year term.

Additional funding will come from the Regional District of East Kootenay to the tune of $85,000.

The funding will be used to support Phase 1 of a two-phase approach the city is taking to managing social issues in the community.

These may fall under federal or provincial jurisdiction, but city officials said Cranbrook will take a more active role in the coordination of outcomes from these services.

“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,” said city staff. “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 second phase will be supported by hiring a Social Integration Specialist, which will be a separate role from the Social Development Coordinator.

City officials said the future Social Integration Specialist will be funded through the Union of BC Municipalities.

“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,” said city staff. “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.”

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