by John McDowell
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

As I write this, the weather has changed – cool and, today, quite rainy.  There are clear signs that fall is just around the corner.

This has been a busy summer for our Upper Rideau Lake Association.  The Board was able to organize and execute our first “virtual” AGM.  Overall, we had some 80 people pre-register.  There were about 70 computers logged on, some with more than one person “attending”.  So, while our circumstances were certainly new – and there were no hotdogs (!)- our meeting was well-attended and we enjoyed excellent presentations and discussion with our speakers.

Once again, we were very fortunate to have Mayors Robin Jones (Westport) and Arie Hoogenboom (Rideau Lakes) speak to our Association, and to have our Councillors also present.  Thank-you, each of you, once again.

Our guest speaker was lake scientist, Queen’s Distinguished Professor, Dr. John Smol.  Dr Smol reminded us that climate change is dynamic, with longer and hotter summers (and less ice cover in winter), affecting lakes, including our own.  Algae blooms, including dangerous “cyanobacterial” blue green algae, may well become more prevalent, even in lakes with steady or declining nutrient levels.  If so, these blooms will pose a greater risk for health, and can lower waterfront property values.

Overall, his message is that all of us – governments, residents, conservation authorities, etc. – have a key role to play to give back to our beautiful lake!

At our July AGM, our Association again elected a volunteer Board for this year.  We said farewell (as a Board member), to long-time volunteer, Anne Carter.  In addition to our colleagues who were re-elected, I am very pleased to welcome new Directors Peggy Thompson (Membership), and Tom Donnelly (Waterfront/tree programs).  We are already benefitting from having you on our Board, thank-you!

I would like to update you on our advocacy efforts, with other local lake associations, to strengthen the draft Official Plan (OP) in Rideau Lakes Township. 

Once finalized this fall, in all likelihood, the revised OP will guide land use planning for a decade or so, so it is worth seeking a clear position on key issues.  We are asking our Council, and especially with respect to our lake, Councillors Lavoie and Pollard, as well as Mayor Hoogenboom, for three basic things.

Our Township of Rideau Lakes Official Plan should:

  1. Not weaken the protections of lake water quality in the current OP- our Township should not move backward;
  2. Protect the “lakes of Rideau Lakes” at least as much as the OPs of our neighbouring municipalities (e.g., North and South Frontenac; Tay Valley; Leeds and the Thousand Islands); and
  3. Actually aim to improve lake water quality!

We believe that there is work to do in all three areas.  And, sometimes I feel that our collective advocacy efforts are not making as much of a difference with our Township as we would hope.  I would encourage our members, therefore, to speak directly with our elected officials on this – and if people have questions from our URLA Board, to speak with me, or Treasurer Michael Hogan, as you wish.

As we enter the fall, there will be much to do for our Association, and individually, for each of you and your families.  Take care, stay healthy, and keep in touch.

John McDowell
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

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