‘We’re going to take over again next year’: Car enthusiasts vow to return to Wasaga Beach

BARRIE, ONT. — The sound of screeching tires has stopped. The smoke and smell of burning rubber have lifted.

But car lovers who overwhelmed Wasaga Beach for an unauthorized rally over the weekend promise they’ll be back.

“I guess they weren’t ready for a big crowd like us, but at least they’ll be ready for next year,” said one man visiting from Montreal. “We took over, and we’re going to take over again next year, 100 per cent.”

Ontario Provincial Police had called in reinforcements from York and Peel regions to help break up crowds, inspect vehicles, and issue tickets. Officers watched from the sky to pinpoint where big groups were forming, where drivers were racing or performing dangerous manoeuvres.

OPP expects to release information about how many tickets were issued for dangerous driving were issued and how many vehicles were impounded on Monday. It is not clear whether anyone was penalized for exceeding COVID-19 social gathering limits.

Things got so ugly Saturday night that officers started checking identification of drivers coming into Wasaga Beach and turning away non-residents.

“In the interest of public safety, we were trying to limit the number of people that continued to flow into Wasaga Beach,” explains OPP Sgt Jason Folz.

Police had to keep moving to keep up complaints.

“(Gatherings) were popping up around town and would disappear as quickly as they’d pop up too, so that’s part of their tactic that they use to distract police maybe at one end of town and then maybe do a gathering at another end,” Folz says.

The mayor of Wasaga Beach calls the event an “invasion”.

“The resources that were brought in to deal with this unauthorized event…cost everyone in the province. Every taxpayer had to pay towards this,” Nina Bifolchi said Sunday. “It’s not acceptable.”

“We saw a lot of disrespect for the community, for law enforcement and for COVID rules.”

The town had attempted to steer drivers with lowered cars away from municipal parking lots by installing speed bumps at their entrances. Some drivers brought shovels to lift away the fresh asphalt.

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