Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. Whether the May long weekend turns out to be sunny or brisk, it renews the promise of long, hot days on the dock, epic boat rides, iconic campfires, and new family memories that will last a lifetime.
No one loves a Muskoka summer more than the Muskoka Lakes Association. And no one works harder to ensure these summers will be safe, peaceful and natural.
The MLA is nearly 2,300 Muskoka families – both permanent and seasonal – united in their love for this area, and determined to preserve and enhance the Muskokan experience for their children and grandchildren to enjoy. Our mission statement is simple: “To promote the responsible use, enjoyment and conservation of the unique Muskoka environment.`
But there’s nothing simple about this mission. Cottagers, visitors and year-round residents all have concerns about the future of Muskoka: threats to water quality, irresponsible boating, increasing pressures for waterfront residential development, concerns over taxation, zoning, governance and other local issues. Conserving what’s unique and wonderful about Muskoka is a year-round job.
That’s why the MLA board, staff and committees have been working throughout the off-season, building alliances, preparing new initiatives and fine-tuning our member programs. You’ll read more about our services in this column in coming weeks, but here are a few of the headline programs that might interest you:
- Our water-testing programs begin this weekend, mobilizing more than 100 volunteers to collect water samples throughout the lakes and rivers of Muskoka. This work alerts us to emerging water quality issues and enables us to advocate for projects and policies that better protect Muskoka’s most precious asset.
- Our political committee has just completed its first year of closely monitoring key municipal council and committee meetings throughout southern Muskoka (i.e., Muskoka District; Muskoka Lakes Township; Bracebridge; Gravenhurst; and Seguin Township). This has made us more effective at anticipating new issues affecting waterfront residents and voicing our views sooner and more strongly. The MLA will continue to closely follow zoning, budget, environmental and other top issues as we head toward municipal elections in October.
- Our MLA Advantage Card program is back for its fourth year, giving our members valuable discounts and deals from more than 100 Muskoka retailers, restaurants, and service providers. We urge our members to “Stock up in Muskoka” to support local merchants.
- MLA members can also benefit from a free audit of their cottage insurance policy by Martin Merry & Reid insurance brokers. This service can help you ensure your coverage is effective and comprehensive – and could save you money in renegotiating your policy.
- We continue to monitor important Muskoka issues, such as 2013 and 2014 spring flooding and lobbying for changes that will protect flood-prone properties.
- This summer you’ll hear about several new programs and seminars to help you get more out of life in Muskoka.
- As an award-winning advocate of safe boating (a century ago, we pushed for mandatory running lights on pleasure craft), the MLA is supporting a major ramp-up of activity by Safe Quiet Lakes. This innovative, made-in-Muskoka program is promoting a new culture of safety on our lakes. We’ve also worked closely with BoatSMART!, Canada’s leading provider of boater education, to bring an industry-leading approach to on-the-water boater training to Muskoka.
- You’ll also hear about our aquatic and sailing regattas (Aug. 2 and 3), and the biannual MLA Antique Boat Show, taking place in Port Carling on Aug. 9. After all, fun in the water is the hallmark of a Muskoka summer.
You’ll also be hearing about our new membership drive. Like many cottage associations, the MLA is working hard to attract residents who share its views on preserving the waterfront environment. We hope we can convince you that everyone wins when we combine our voices and improve Muskoka together.
Tens of thousands of seasonal and permanent residents benefit from the MLA’s programs and advocacy. As Canada’s oldest and largest cottage association, we hope this will be the summer you decide to join us. Think of the MLA as a big, comfy insurance policy that helps ensure that Muskoka will always be a place where you and your family want to spend your treasured leisure time.
To our existing members: thanks so much for your continuing support. And to all Muskokans, have a fun, safe summer. Boat and swim safely, always keep a bucket of water by the campfire, and listen for the loons: you’re creating memories that will never be forgotten.