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It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the world’s environmental problems and to feel you have no influence, or to even tune out the bad news altogether.  But there are constructive actions we can take in our own homes and daily lives. 

recycling gangREAL’s formation was catalyzed by the inspiring talk of a well-known environmentalist, David Suzuki.  In October 1989, Ron Stewart and Peter Au, both educators with the Lanark County Board of Education, were at a conference of science teachers in Ottawa.  Suzuki’s talk was on the environment and how to “Think Globally and Act Locally”.  The men were inspired to act and organized a meeting with ten other individuals to discuss forming a local action-oriented environmental organization, which became the Rideau Environmental Action League.

Through public awareness and small scale local projects, REAL encourages residents to make environmentally responsible decisions and provides opportunities for them to participate in environmental activities in their own community.


What  We Do

The Rideau Environmental Action League conducts community-wide environmental projects and promotes environmental improvements within the Town of Smiths Falls and Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties.

REAL was incorporated as a not-for-profit community organization in 1989. It formed a charity, the Rideau Environment Trust, in 1990.

In 1998, REAL formed the Lanark & Leeds Green Community (LL Green) and in 2000 Evergreen Avenue, as projects of REAL. LL Green engaged homeowners in specific actions to reduce their impact on energy use, water, shorelines and land. It’s projects are now considered direct projects of REAL. Evergreen Avenue is both a living memorial to veterans and peacekeepers from the area and a community beautification project that features native vegetation.

In 2010 REAL became a registered Canadian charity, and the Rideau Environment Trust was dissolved in 2011.

REAL works with its volunteers, members, donors, friends and supporters, and with schools, municipalities, agencies, businesses, and government ministries to achieve its Mission and Goals.

We created a bookmark in 2020 to summarize REAL.  You can pick one up at the store!








This first video below was produced on the occasion of REAL’s 30th anniversary explains REAL’s beginnings and introduces some of those involved in REAL today. The second is Peter Au and Ron Stewart, founding members of REAL, talking about REAL before our 2019 Local Foods Dinner.


See a video produced in honour of our 25th anniversary by Arranel Studios.

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Mission & Goals

Our Mission

To educate, inspire and provide opportunities for people to protect, preserve and restore our environment.

Our Goals

  1. Raise public environmental awareness
  2. Encourage environmentally friendly practices
  3. Undertake achievable, small scale, local environment enhancement projects
  4. Network with other environmental groups and agencies
  5. Recognize local environmental achievements
  6. Raise funds for REAL’s work

REAL Bylaw

REAL has been working on a updated version of its bylaw which was presented and approved at a members meeting March 11, 2019.

Read Bylaw


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Board of Directors

DSC07669REAL (Large)REAL is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors which:

  • Determines outcomes
  • Sets long term goals, clarifies issues and voices problems
  • Develops and implements the strategic plan
  • Sets budgets
  • Defines policies and monitors implementation
  • Carries out an evaluation process on activities/projects

 Directors (September 2020)

  • Katie Hoffman (President)
  • Karen Schecter (Vice President)
  • Dave Thornley (Treasurer)
  • Barb Hicks (Secretary)
  • Peter Au (Founding Member)
  • Donna McKenna

Liaison from the Town of Smiths Falls:  Niki Dwyer

See Bios of our Board and Staff.

Read about REAL’s Business Plan.

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andress 2010REAL has four standing committees established in our bylaw: Executive, Finance and Fundraising, Membership and Volunteers, and Communications.  But many other committees exist to manage our other activities.  Each committee has a Board member assigned to it, who is responsible for reporting its progress at the monthly Board meetings.

These other committees are:  Journey to Sustainability (J2S), Municipal, REAL Deal Committee, Monarch Garden, Community Garden, Pitch In, Evergreen Avenue and Local Foods Dinner.  Two other projects do not have a full committee, but have a board members responsible for it:  Radon Meter Lending and the Face Mask Project.

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Annual Report


REAL produces a newsletter five times a year.  Join our mailing list.

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Corporate Members

REAL is very grateful for the continued support of our corporate members:

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Honorary Members

REAL awards Honorary Memberships to acknowledge a person’s longterm commitment to REAL and exemplary volunteer contributions.  These members were influential in the development of REAL and continue to be an integral part of our organization. Current honorary members are shown below.  Find out how you can become a member.

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REAL holds memberships and reciprocal memberships with a number of local, provincial and federal organizations:


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