A lack of police resources meant “law and order” couldn’t be maintained during a chaotic unauthorized car rally in Wasaga Beach this past weekend, the town’s mayor says.
“A group of individuals participating in an unsanctioned car rally visited our community and broke the law. This included careless and dangerous driving, the operation of unsafe vehicles, damaging public and private property, breaking into businesses, disturbing the peace, and risking people’s lives,” Mayor Nina Bifolchi said.
Bifolchi said the town met with the OPP ahead of the event, and police indicated that a plan was in place and illegal activity would be met with “zero tolerance.”
“The town is very appreciative of the men and women who wear the OPP uniform and patrol our streets, but clearly police resources this past weekend did not allow for the robust response required to maintain law and order,” she said.
“There were many examples brought to the attention of the town where laws were being broken and police intervention was not witnessed. This is unacceptable to the residents of Wasaga Beach.”
Videos on social media appear to show different vehicles performing stunts, as well as rowdy crowds gathered in the road.
Ontario Provincial Police said two police cruisers were vandalized and there was property damage at two stores, including a break-in.
Bifolchi said community safety was “repeatedly put at risk” during the event.
“The town has no authority over the OPP, but we call on those in authority within the OPP to review what transpired and take steps to ensure that there is never a repeat of what we witnessed,” she said.
Bifolchi also called on Solicitor General Michael Kerzner to ensure that the police service is “properly equipped and prepared” to make sure Wasaga Beach never sees a repeat of what happened.
A spokesperson for Kerzner said the behaviour seen in the town over the weekend was “completely unacceptable” and called on anyone with information to contact authorities.
“The government does not interfere with or direct police operational decisions, including in response to community incidents,” the spokesperson added.
“However, we will continue to provide police services and community partners with the resources and support they need to combat crime and keep Ontarians safe.”
Bifolchi added that individuals have asked why the town doesn’t close its municipal borders to “rowdy” participants and turn the vehicles around.
“We have been advised that this is not a legal option,” she said.
Bifolchi said the town also tried to reach out to those associated with the car rally ahead of the event, asking that they follow their special events process, but never received a response.
“Again, I call on the car rally community to consider working with us. An organized and safe gathering is possible here,” she said.
OPP said 191 charges were laid between Friday and Sunday, 154 of which were related to the Highway Traffic Act.
Thirty-seven charges were speed-related, 18 involved an improper or no muffler and six were for unnecessary noise.
Three drivers were also charged with impaired operation as officers conducted two RIDE checks.
Police responded to a total of 327 calls for service.
The OPP said investigations into the weekend’s events are ongoing.
“There are numerous active investigations into the incidents that transpired in Wasaga Beach this past weekend,” police said.
“The OPP will conduct thorough and exhaustive investigations holding those responsible accountable.”
Wasaga Beach residents and visitors who haven’t yet reported property damage or other crime for the weekend are being asked to contact the Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.