Collingwood Residents: Jenn Rae, Housing Development Coordinator, City of Collingwood

It’s only her first week on the job, but Jenn Rae is looking into the housing issue in Collingwood.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood, we spoke with Rae, 40, Housing Development Coordinator at the City of Collingwood.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: St. Catharines. I went to Brock University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies.

Q: You were recently hired as a housing development coordinator with the city. When did you know this was a career you wanted to pursue?

A: My career has really evolved over time. It’s not something I would have ever dreamed of working on, but I’m very interested in trying to find housing solutions. It affects so many people.

In my previous job, I worked very closely with a lot of charities. Whatever their mission, 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 hope the work we do here in Collingwood is successful and adaptable to different communities, and helps many people in the end.

Q: Can you describe your career development?

A: I started my career in marketing and project management roles. I always felt something was missing, so I made the leap into marketing and communications for a hospital foundation several years ago.

It was like a light bulb moment when I realized that work was more fulfilling when it helped people.

I worked for the Southlake Foundation and the North York General Foundation before moving to the Innisfil area where I was fundraising for the Rizzardo Health and Wellness Center.

Q: Have you ever moved to Collingwood?

A: Not yet. I live in Barrie.

I hope to move to Collingwood in the near future.

Q: What made you want to apply for this position?

A: Building on the work 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 has granted over $350,000 to charity.

Being a part of that, including being a member of the Rotary Club of Innisfil, I really got to see the bigger picture of challenges and opportunities and was able to connect people and ideas.

I’m thrilled to bring that to this role at Collingwood.

Q: Do you have any thoughts so far on some of the unique challenges Collingwood faces when it comes to bringing housing to the area?

A: Being so close to the Blue Mountains and being a resort is a challenge. I also really see the passion of the staff and the leaders of the city. I’ve already met some of the committed community members who work on the Affordable Housing Task Force, and I see that passion and desire to make a difference. It really got me excited.

Q: One of the first tasks of the new coordinator is to chart the way forward for the city on housing. What will be your first steps?

A: It is still very early. I will be meeting with the working group this afternoon for the first time. I want to listen to their wisdom and hear about all the work they have put into this file. I think it’s really important to reach out to other communities that are going through the same thing…and find out what worked and what didn’t work in other areas.

Q: What are some of your other hobbies and interests?

A: My husband and I discovered skiing a few years ago. I can’t wait for the ski season to start.

I like to eat and cook. My first three days in Collingwood, I saw that the downtown restaurant scene is very inspiring and I love it.

Q: Is there anything else you would like the people of Collingwood to know about you?

A: Not necessarily about me personally, but about affordable housing.

I would really like people to see the big picture when it comes to affordable housing. It’s not something that only affects people who can’t find suitable housing. It impacts the whole community.

People who live and work in the city will spend money in the community and build relationships that will strengthen the social fabric and make Collingwood a more resilient place for everyone.

We all have a role to play in finding solutions.

For our People of Collingwood feature, we’ll speak with interesting people who are part of, or contribute to, the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will work on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you would like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected]