If you’re a Muskoka cottage owner, chances are good that you’re part of or looking to join a lake association. Muskoka lake associations come in different shapes and sizes, with just about every lake in the region having a formal or informal association for its residents. The role played by lake associations are critical to promoting environmental stewardship, limiting land disputes, and other key issues, though their importance often goes misunderstood by cottagers and those living in rural areas. If you’re considering the benefits of joining a local lake association, consider the following.

Promoting cleaner, healthier lakes
One of the most important roles played by these associations is protecting our bodies of water and promoting cleaner and healthier lakes. Without them looking out for the health of Muskoka’s lakes, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our lakes to the extent we currently do each and every season. Lakes are carefully monitored for quality and tested for phosphorus levels to ensure that lake water is kept safe for use by members. To promote healthier bodies of water, local associations work to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining your septic system, what chemicals and fertilizers shouldn’t be used, and how members can go about keeping their lake healthy and thriving for years to come.

Limiting road disputes
Private roads around lakes can present many complications for those who live on and use them regularly. In many cases, home and cottage owners situated on private roads own the road in front of their house, with property owners using and sharing the road in a tacit or explicit agreement to enjoy right-of-way. In these situations, homeowners are generally responsible for snow and debris removal and general maintenance on their portion of the road, though it’s all too often complicated by uncooperative or absent cottagers. In these situations, lake associations work with property owners to formalize agreements about road use, maintenance, snow removal for full-time residents, and other important issues so that everybody can continue to enjoy free use of the road.

Responsible land use
Muskoka’s lake associations have worked for years to ensure that the region’s lakes can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come. A major part of that is ensuring that land use and development respects the land and its lakes, achieves modern environmental standards, and meets the unique needs and wants of the people of the Muskoka region. By working to protect the environment and fight for forward-thinking land use and development, lake associations ensure that cottagers can continue enjoying the region well into the future.

Fighting for cottagers on local issues
Making your voice heard on the local issues that matter most to you can play a major part in shaping local policy. Lake associations amplify your voice by fighting for you on local issues that affect lake roads and waterways, resources, land use and development, best practices, and much more. Protecting and fighting for these things is critical to the continued enjoyment of Muskoka’s many lakes.

Over the years, Muskoka lake associations have fought to protect cottage owners from the effects of toxic chemicals, worked to reduce boating hazards, created risk-management programs, and brought volunteer groups together with the intention of promoting environmental stewardship.

Putting the emphasis on fun
Lake associations don’t just exist to protect waterways and fight for you, but also to ensure that you and your family can do exactly what you came to do – have fun. Many of Muskoka’s lake associations hold annual celebrations and events for their members, including boating and sailing regattas, boat shows, bonspiels, and other family friendly events that everybody can enjoy.

If you’re interested in learning more about or joining one of Muskoka’s many lake associations, you can find many of them on the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) website, asking your neighbours, or by contacting your local municipal office.

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