Ontario Provincial Police are warning people attending a car rally in Wasaga Beach, Ont., this weekend not to engage in “risky, illegal and dangerous actions” after a similar rally spun out of control in the Georgian Bay resort town last month.
“Members of the public are asked to anticipate an increased police presence, possible traffic delays and road closures,” Acting Sgt. R. Simpson of OPP Central Region said in a Twitter video on Thursday.
“Visitors are reminded to respect our communities and not jeopardize the safety of our citizens or our neighbourhoods with risky, illegal and dangerous actions.”
At a car rally on the Aug. 26 to 28 weekend in the town north of Toronto, two OPP vehicles had their windows smashed. According to police and videos circulating on social media, there was street racing, stunt driving and vandalism.
The town’s mayor, Nina Bifolchi, wondered why police weren’t better prepared to handle the influx of visitors that weekend.
Simpson said the OPP will be working with Wasaga Beach bylaw enforcement officers and the Wasaga Beach Fire Department as well as Ontario Parks officials and the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
In a statement on the town’s website on Thursday, Bifolchi said the town welcomes visitors but it expects them to obey the law.
“Participants in past unauthorized car rally events here have shown a complete disregard for public safety, various laws, and the police who enforce them. We call on participants, this time around, to leave their bad behaviour at home,” she said.
“Police will take a strict approach to speeding, excessive noise, illegal vehicle modifications, and dangerous driving. Where applicable, OPP will tow and impound vehicles.”
20 people charged, OPP say
The OPP said on Thursday it has charged 20 people with dangerous driving and stunt driving offences after the late August rally.
The accused face 37 Criminal Code and Highway Traffic Act offences, according to the OPP. The accused range in age from 17 to 37 and live across Ontario.
Of the 37 charges laid, 17 counts are for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle under the Criminal Code, while 20 counts are for stunt driving under the Highway Traffic Act.
The town, meanwhile, is advising residents to avoid areas where there is a high police presence this weekend.
Rachael Ivak, municipal law enforcement coordinator for Wasaga Beach, said in the town’s statement that bylaw officers will be working on the weekend, handling municipal bylaw complaints.
“In regards to noise and firework violations that are observed throughout town, we will be working closely with the Ontario Provincial Police to ensure strict enforcement is taken,” she said.