Category Archives: President’s Message


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

A year like no other…

An update from John McDowell, URLA President
Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 10.40.53I hope that everyone is keeping healthy and well.  I’m sure that you are looking forward to the warm weather and enjoying the beauty of Upper Rideau Lake and region.  The ice has now been off the lake and spring has started!

This year, however, is so far like no other.  The coronavirus has disrupted the lives of all, and ended the lives of some, Canadians.  Our governments tell us this virus will continue to be dangerous and a personal challenge for some time to come.

Speaking personally, I find the worst of “social isolating” is the uncertainty – we don’t know how long this will last.  So, we tend to live almost day to day, and look forward the day when normalcy, perhaps a temporary “new normal” will return.

To some extent, this “uncertainty” affects certain decisions and operations of our lake association.  And yet, like every year, most things remain relatively certain and predictable.

Here are some tangible examples of activities that the Board is working on.

Boating on our lake. 
We are determining the best way of placing our shoal markers on our lake, as we do every year.  However, the municipality of Rideau Lakes has ordered public boat launches closed for now, and all Parks Canada facilities are temporarily closed.

Tree and seedling program
Many of you have ordered young trees (seedlings and saplings).  We are confirming delivery logistics with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority – stay tuned on when, where and how these can be picked up, later this spring.

Thanks to our volunteers. Volunteers will continue with our lake water testing, in ongoing support of watershed management and a healthy lake.

We will have an Annual General Meeting – it is scheduled for July – and we will let you know as soon as we can when it will occur and who our keynote speaker will be.  We are very much looking forward to this event – even more than usual – and seeing everyone of you!

I should also flag two important administrative items.  First of all, there will likely be a few openings for volunteers on our Board, for the year ahead.  The Board is a good and fulfilling place to volunteer.  While special skills are always valuable, two attributes that contribute to a successful Board are a willingness and availability to lead work in one’s specific area, and a passion for serving Upper Rideau Lake!

If you or a friend would like more information on volunteering for our Board, please send me an email.

The URLA also needs to receive membership renewal – this year, the household membership is $40, due by the end of June (and ideally remitted earlier).  Membership can be paid by online here.  If people have questions, please contact our membership coordinator Anne Carter

Please feel free to pass on information about our Association to neighbours, and new arrivals on our lake, to help us recruit new members.

Take care everyone, and best wishes for the spring!
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

Busy summer… now full steam ahead!

Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 10.40.53Message from the President

I hope that all of you have had a wonderful summer and fall, out “at the lake”.  I always find this a very busy – and poignant – period, as we store away our summer furniture, winterize equipment, and otherwise get ready for the coming frost!

It is a busy period as well for the URLA.

The canal navigation season ended shortly after Thanksgiving.  So, once again, our lake Association volunteers removed the 11 white shoal marker buoys, to store them until next spring.  Placing and maintaining the shoal markers (which can sometimes blow off in high winds, and then need to be replaced in their proper spots), all through volunteer efforts and personal boats, is one of the key contributions our Association makes to the safety of our lake.

We have also launched a new tree sapling program.  The URLA has for many years provided indigenous “bare root” seedlings – free of charge – to our members.  And over the years, the bare root program has resulted in many trees being planted on properties around the lake.

The new “sapling” program adds to the choices available to Members.  It is an excellent program   – two gallon potted saplings of indigenous trees and shrub species will be available for pick up in the spring, at a very competitive price of $3 each.  Orders must be placed by November 15th.  This is the first year of this “experiment”- so there is a real opportunity to order great trees now, to be picked up in the spring.

Additional information can be found at the following link.

We are also continuing to work with the Township of Rideau Lakes and other area lake associations to input into the new Township Official Plan.  Overall, we are advocating that EXISTING protections for the waterfront and lake environments be retained, and that, if at all possible, there be ADDITIONAL protections for waterfront vegetation in the development process.  Many of you will have already provided your input directly to the Township through its consultative processes.

The Township will issue a complete draft of the new Official Plan in mid November.  Please continue to stay in touch with our Board, and/or the Township itself, if you wish to share any concerns or comments.

The Association is also very pleased with the decision taken by the Township to “register site plan conditions on Title”.  This means that once a site plan is approved, it will be part of the title to the property.  Not only will this process be more transparent, it should result in more lasting protections for our lake water quality, particularly that arising from shoreline vegetation.  The efforts to persuade Council to modernize its development policies were the result of hard work by many committed people, not only on our lake, but throughout the watershed.  And, we should also recognize the support of our Ward Councillors and our Mayor.

Earlier this year, Mayor Hoogenboom and Council established a Committee of Council, called the “Rideau Lakes Lake Associations Committee”.  This group draws together volunteers from the various lakes across the Township, to share information, and  voice concerns directly to the Council.  The meetings are public, and the next meeting is November 14th.  This initiative has already proven to be very valuable – as it creates a network of lake associations that we can work with, and learn from, as well as direct access to Council.  So, I am grateful to the Township for its support in this regard, too.

As we look ahead to the URLA Board over the winter, I expect that we will be doing some homework on sound administration – planning ahead, renewing our contact with you, our Members, setting our budget for next year, etc.  We always appreciate receiving any comments that you have.

Finally, I would like to recognize the support of two people leaving our Board.

David McKinney resigned from our Board a few weeks ago.  Many of you will have seen David at our AGM.  David was much of the “magic” behind our modernized website, and our social media presence.  During his two plus years as a Board member, David McKinney – largely singlehandedly-  modernized the IT of our Association.

John Cottril only joined the Board last summer.  However, his wise presence, too, was immediately valuable, given his background as a retired senior planner with many years working for conservation authorities.  John and his wife, Colleen Walker are moving away from our lake.

We owe each of these people our thanks, and we wish them well for the future!

In closing, I hope that all of you have a fulfilling and safe winter season.  As I suspect you all are, I too, am already looking forward to the spring! Take care, and please contact us if you have questions or concerns.

John McDowell