It’s only her first week on the job, but Jenn Rae is diving into the issue of housing in Collingwood.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Rae, 40, Housing Development Co-ordinator with the Town of Collingwood.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: St. Catharines. I went to Brock University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies there.
Q: You were recently hired as housing development co-ordinator with the town. When did you know that was a career you wanted to pursue?
A: My career has really evolved over time. It’s not something I ever dreamed I’d be working on, but I’m very interested in trying to figure out housing solutions. It impacts so many people.
In my previous work, I worked very closely with a lot of charities. Regardless of what their mission was, affordable housing was a common theme and challenge.
On a personal note, I have friends and family across the province who are struggling to find affordable housing.
I’m hopeful that the work we do here in Collingwood is successful and adaptable to different communities, and help a lot of people in the end.
Q: Can you describe your evolving career?
A: I started my career in marketing and project management roles. I always felt something was missing, so I made the move to marketing and communications for a hospital foundation several years ago.
It was like a light-bulb moment when I realized work was more fulfilling when it was helping people.
I worked for Southlake Foundation and North York General Foundation before making a move to the Innisfil area where I was fundraising for the Rizzardo Health and Wellness Centre.
Q: Have you made the move to Collingwood yet?
A: Not yet. I live in Barrie.
I’m hoping to settle down in Collingwood in the near future.
Q: What made you want to apply for this job?
A: Building on the work that I did in Innisfil... I worked on a number of communications, community engagement and community development projects there, including developing the Innisfil Community Foundation which granted over $350,000 to charity.
Being part of that, including being a member of the Rotary Club of Innisfil, I was really able to take a bird’s-eye view of the challenges and opportunities and was able to connect people and ideas.
I’m excited to bring that to this role in Collingwood.
Q: Do you have any ideas so far on some of the unique challenges Collingwood is facing when it comes to bringing housing to the area?
A: Being so close to Blue Mountains and being a resort town brings a challenge. I’m also really seeing the passion of the staff and leadership of the town. I’ve already met a few of the engaged community members that work on the affordable housing task force, and I’m seeing that passion and desire to change things. It has me really excited.
Q: One of the first jobs for the new co-ordinator is to work on a path forward for the town when it comes to housing. What are your first steps going to be?
A: It’s still very early days. I’ll be meeting with the task force this afternoon for the first time. I want to listen to their wisdom and hear about all the work they’ve put into this issue. I think reaching out to other communities that are experiencing the same thing... and finding out what has been successful and what hasn’t in other areas is really important.
Q: What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
A: My husband and I just got into skiing a few years ago. I’m looking forward to ski season starting up.
I love to eat and cook. My first three days in Collingwood, I’ve seen the downtown restaurant scene is very inspiring and I’m loving that.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: Not necessarily personally about me, but about affordable housing.
I’d really like people to look at the full picture when it comes to affordable housing. It’s not something that only affects the individuals that can’t find appropriate housing. It impacts the entire community.
People who live and work in town will spend money in the community and they’ll build relationships that strengthen the social fabric and will make Collingwood a more resilient place for everyone.
We all have a role to play in finding solutions.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].