Meriko Kubota has been hired as the social planner for City of Powell River, qathet Regional District and Tla’amin Nation.
In the newly created position funded by the three regional governments, Kubota will focus on people, their relationships to one another and social issues such as social equity, cultural diversity, and community and health issues.
“The four strategic priorities for social planning currently are housing for all, early childhood development, social cohesion and poverty alleviation,” said Kubota. “I work with and support community-based organizations, faith groups and businesses, and create collaborations between them and the local, provincial and federal governments.”
Councillor Maggie Hathaway, who holds the social action and planning, and affordable housing portfolios on city council, said the city and region need a person on the front lines of social issues.
“I am thrilled to welcome Meriko as social planner for the Powell River area,” said Hathaway. “Her background and experience will go a long way in addressing the social issues our citizens are currently facing.”
While new to Powell River, Kubota is very familiar with the area from visiting often over the years.
“As a child and teenager I came up to Powell Lake to a friend’s cabin,” said Kubota, who grew up in North Vancouver. “Subsequent visits convinced me and my husband to move here when we had our son.”
Like many newcomers, Kubota and her husband sought lifestyle and opportunity to raise children and they have found it in Powell River.
“The day we arrived at our home in Powell River our neighbours came to greet us and welcome us. They are now some of our closest friends,” said Kubota. “Our neighbours are an integral part of our community and provide everything from food, electrical and mechanical service to advice on our garden, fruit trees and chickens. It’s a world of difference from living in a loft in Gastown, Vancouver, where we barely knew the neighbours we shared a wall with and rarely saw them.”
By contrast, Kubota said, “When my mom comes to visit us, she says her face hurts from walking the sea walk because she’s constantly smiling at and talking to people.”
Kubota holds a graduate diploma in social innovation from the University of Waterloo and a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia. She was formerly the director of sponsorship marketing and community investment at Mountain Equipment Coop, director of strategic partnerships and community investment at TELUS, and manager of grants and special projects for the Vancouver Foundation.
Prior to accepting the position of social planner, Kubota worked as an independent consultant supporting local organizations such as First Credit Union and PREP Society.