URLA, a member of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations is a volunteer run not for profit organization comprised of community members surrounding Upper Rideau Lake. Upper Rideau Lake is part of the Rideau Canal System located in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

The Rideau Canal System is a historic treasure and a natural wonder. Upper Rideau Lake stands at the Canal's watershed point, flowing south to Kingston through the Cataraqui waterway and north to Ottawa through Big Rideau Lake and the Rideau River. With the scenic town of Westport at one end, Newboro with its renowned fishing to the south, the ancient Narrows Lock at the east end and the massive granite cliffs of Foley Mountain dominating the wild north shore, the lake is one of the great beauty spots of the region.

The lake supports a rich diversity of wildlife and a broad array of recreational activities. URLA is committed to protecting and improving the lake environment to ensure that it is safe for swimming, boating and fishing and that it is a healthy habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Besides monitoring water quality, surveying the lake for potential problems and maintaining the shoreline, the Association also gives a strong voice to its members in the regional bodies governing the lake. URLA also participates with other lake associations in the region in projects and alliances, such as in supporting the Rideau Lakes Environmental Information Centre in Portland and promoting responsible fishing practices.

The Upper Rideau Lake Association: Background

The Upper Rideau Lake Association (URLA) is an incorporated non-profit organization. The organization, headed by a Board of Directors, is a volunteer association consisting of seasonal and permanent residents of the Upper Rideau Lake, holiday lake users, and residents of the village of Westport, interested in promoting and protecting the natural environment of the Upper Rideau Lake. The Association was founded in 1989 as the "Concerned Citizens of the Upper Rideau Lake" and the name was changed to the Upper Rideau Lake Association at the first Annual General Meeting held on July 29, 1990. Its initial primary focus was and remains water quality and in 1989 the primary issue it set out to address was the identification of a solution to the disposal of Westport sewage into the Upper Rideau Lakes. URLA was instrumental in the eventual resolution of the issue.

The mission of URLA, drafted in July 1991 is: To promote a quality of social and ecological environment for property owners, residents and users within the Upper Rideau Lake and environs by identifying and facilitating the resolution of issues and undertaking initiatives for the common good. Areas of emphasis are water quality and use, Lakeshore property, Advocacy, Liaison and Public Awareness.

The majority of URLA's work is associated with the Upper Rideau Lake, located in the County of Leeds & Grenville, and includes areas of the Township of Rideau Lakes and the village of Westport.

Currently, the people that take part in our activities, programs and use our services vary. We have approximately 100 family memberships which belong directly to the Association but URLA serves a much larger clientele. All residents of the lake are encouraged to participate in programs and in addition, Westport and the Upper Rideau Lake, situated on the Rideau Canal are major tourist destinations, and the Association reaches out to both land-based and water-based visitors.

As noted above, URLA activities can be broken down into four sectors:

Water quality and use: Environmental Programs: Fisheries Studies, water Quality Monitoring, monitoring of aquatic vegetation and exotic weed growth, projects to address nutrient abatement and research programs that allow us to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of the lake and the source of any pollutants. Other activities related to use: navigational markers, boating regulations and safety, and the addressing of issues such as personal watercraft.

Lakeshore Property: Shoreline restoration and planting, support of private stewardship through programs such as the Living by Water project, septic field inspections and monitoring, implementation of the Cottage Watch program, etc.

Advocacy and Liaison: URLA pursues the interests of its members and lake residents through participation in several partnerships (Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association, Alliance of Rideau Lakes Association and Environment and Information Centre) and liaison with municipal governments (Township of Rideau Lakes and Village of Westport), the provincial government ( Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of the Environment) and the Federal Government ( Parks Canada, Rideau Canal).

Public Awareness and Education: Provide information to our members and the public via our newsletter and public meetings (both AGM and special purpose meetings).