CALA originated in the 1970’s as a road association for a development on Indian Lake Road. Naturally, the primary focus at that time related to road related concerns. When the township took over responsibility for the road in 1998, CALA changed priorities to become more environmentally oriented and it opened membership to residents on Benson Lake, all Indian Lake as well as Chaffey’s Lock residents and businesses.
In 2016, CALA was in danger of disappearing completely. Believing that there was even more of a need than in the past, a group of five individuals formed a new executive. The primary emphasis from that point was to network with other lake associations and government agencies who were involved with programs pertaining to the health of the lakes – especially those concerned with shorelines, water quality and fish habitats. As there were other lakes in the area that did not have lake associations, membership opportunities were extended to property owners on Benson, Clear, Newboro, Opinicon, Sand, and most recently (2020) Whitefish Lake.
As of 2022, CALA has an nine member executive and a membership that has more than doubled since 2018. Through its volunteers, CALA assists members and local residents by communicating information and knowledge about key and topical issues of concern i.e. water quality, septics, illegal fishing, water safety etc. This is achieved through the development and circulation of a bi-annual newsletter, facilitation of at least two meetings per year with keynote speakers, and disseminating information from our partner organizations (there are more than 500 lake associations in Ontario so there is a wealth of resources generated by these groups as well as other non-governmental and governmental partners.)
CALA volunteers contribute to citizen science through their involvement in a number of different projects. The Western Chorus Frog Monitoring Project, the Loon Monitoring project and the Lake Partner Water testing programs are three of the current undertakings. The first two projects are recent endeavors but the last project has been on-going for many years. Each of our lakes is tested once a month from May to October for potassium/clarity (issues that signal environmental changes). This work for the Ministry of the Environment has contributed to key water quality data that would not have existed had it not been for the efforts of so many dedicated volunteers. The Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association (FOCA) has developed an excellent overview report providing the history, case studies and data trends of this program.
Another key focus for CALA is the Rideau Lakes Lake Association Committee . This committee was established by Rideau Lakes Township and is comprised of representatives from 14 local lake associations (including representation from CALA), council members and the Mayor of Rideau Lakes. The committee meets regularly to exchange information and discuss issues that impact lake health, lake residents and lake users.