City hires social development coordinator, will begin new role this week

Marcel Germer has been hired by the City of Cranbrook to serve as the Social Development Coordinator. City of Cranbrook photo.

The City of Cranbrook has hired a social development coordinator who will identify gaps and link government support and non-profit resources as part of a plan to respond to burgeoning challenges faced by the city’s vulnerable population.

Marcel Germer will head up the new role, which was created this year and partially funded out of 2023 municipal budget, along with support from the RDEK, is a response to changes in the social fabric of the community, according to the city.

Germer brings over 30 years of professional experience in the Human Service field, and holds a Masters of Clinical Psychology. She has spent the last 13 year with the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services; six years as a social worker and seven years in a supervisory role.

Additional career experiences include serving as a coordinator with Summit Community Services Society as well as with the East Kootenay Brain Injury and the PARTY (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) 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 said. “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.”

Germer will be tasked with coordinating provincial and non-profit support services for the city’s unhoused population, while also filling and identifying service gaps and trends, as well as reducing the workload on other city departments such as bylaw, RCMP, and Fire and Emergency Services.

The social development coordinator was initiated with an early budget request of $50,000. along with consideration for the same amounts in each of the next two fiscal years. Similarly, the RDEK also pitched in $85,000 and will consider additional funding support in the coming budget years.

The new role is the first part of a two-phased approach, as Germer will take the lead in areas of homelessness that impact impact municipal services and resources.

The second phase will utilize grant funding from the Union of British Columbia municipalities that will focus on a longer-term approach beyond the day-to-day challenges, which was a recommendation that came out of a poverty-reduction conference last fall in Cranbrook.

Phase two, which will involve the creation of a Social Integration Specialist, will investigate — and make policy recommendations — on issues such as 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.

The second phase will operate on a non-profit model similar to what the City of Vernon has created.

“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.”