Ontario Provincial Police have laid more than 250 charges this long weekend as it continues its enforcement blitz at an illegal car rally in Wasaga Beach, Ont.
On Friday, officers handed out roughly 97 tickets as they began cracking down on the planned car rally over the Labour Day long weekend, OPP said. On Saturday, an additional 160 charges were laid as of 2:00 p.m., the force said in a news release.
Of those issued Friday, police say they include charges for Highway Traffic Act violations, suspended licence, unnecessary noise, improper muffler and drivers with no licences. One motorist was charged with drug-impaired operation of a vehicle, police said.
Saturday, charges included speeding, licence plate violations, vehicle tire violations and driver’s licence offences, OPP said. Police say multiple vehicles have been impounded.
Injunction granted over rally
Last week, Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the Town of Wasaga Beach, located at the southern end of Georgian Bay, its request for injunctions against the illegal car rally. This follows years of summer rallies that led to charges and disturbances.
“The OPP would like to also remind anyone that chooses to drive dangerously or commit criminal acts, that we will continue to investigate after this weekend. They may still face charges following this weekend,” police warned.
In a news release Sunday, the Town of Wasaga Beach said that an unsanctioned car rally was “successfully dispersed” Saturday night.
Roughly 500 drivers were part of the illegal car rally, according to the release.
“The coordinated efforts of the municipality and OPP prevented a large number of car rally participants from entering our community,” said Fire Chief and Municipal Emergency Operations Centre Director Craig Williams.
Klondike Road was closed temporarily to prevent a larger group of vehicles from entering town but has since reopened.
OPP say residents and visitors should both continue to expect an increase in police presence in Wasaga Beach and neighbouring townships for the remainder of the long weekend.
“A highly coordinated, Strict but Fair approach is what we used last night,” said Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith in a statement Sunday.
“It is what we will continue to use this weekend, and it’s the approach we will continue to improve upon when dealing with these types of situations going forward.”
Attending car rally a breach of court order
The court ruling made Tuesday outlines that attending or promoting the car rally is not only a bylaw violation but a breach of a court order. It states that the Ontario Provincial Police have the authority to “arrest and remove any person with knowledge of the order and who is contravening or has contravened any part of the order.”
The event, called the H2Oi car rally, is expected to take place until Monday. The town’s officials issued warnings last week to enjoy the beach but leave any modified cars at home. It said that rallies that have occurred over the past few years have been a threat to public safety and caused “significant damage” to private and public property.
Any modified vehicles are not being allowed to enter the municipality and traffic diversion measures were put in place Wednesday including some road closures.
The town has experienced an influx of illegal car rallies since the pandemic’s onset. In 2020, close to 200 tickets were issued after an illegal car rally breached COVID-19 protocols in place at the time.
In August 2022, windows were smashed on two OPP vehicles during a rally. Police presence was increased again in September 2022 when another rally took place. Charges against some attendees included stunt driving and vandalism.
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