20 charged after August car rally in Wasaga Beach, OPP worry about repeat of event

OPP warns about the dangers of distracted driving.
OPP warns about the dangers of distracted driving. File Photo

Ontario Provincial Police say 20 people face multiple charges after an unauthorized car rally in Wasaga Beach last month.

Members of the Huronia West OPP have charged 20 people with 37 criminal and Highway Traffic Act offences related to incidents that took place over the weekend of Aug. 26-28.

After the weekend, Wasaga Beach’s mayor said “law and order” were not maintained.

“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 following the incident.

The 20 people have been charged with 17 counts of dangerous driving, a criminal code offence, 20 counts of stunt driving, a provincial Highway Traffic Act offence.

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OPP say the accused range in age from 17 to 37 and reside across Ontario, including within Central Region and the Greater Toronto Area.

The investigation into the August incident continues, and police say additional charges may still be laid.

Videos on social media appear to show different vehicles performing stunts, as well as rowdy crowds gathered on the road.

OPP say two police cruisers were vandalized and there was property damage at two stores, including a break-in.

Police say officers and an OPP canine were inside the vehicles when the suspects mounted the vehicles and smashed the windows, but all were unharmed.

Anthony Houle, 25, of London, faces eight charges, including two counts of assaulting a peace officer, causing a disturbance, participating in a riot, and mischief over $5,000.

This latest group of charges comes as the OPP expects an increase in visitors again this weekend, leading them to increase police presence in the Ontario beach community.

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Wasaga Beach’s mayor had previously criticized the OPP response to the August event. “Clearly, police resources this past weekend did not allow for the robust response required to maintain law and order,” the mayor said at the time.

Residents are advised to expect traffic delays and road closures.

“The OPP will be working together with the Town of Wasaga Beach, Municipal By-Law, Wasaga Beach Fire Department, Ontario Parks and the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors this weekend,” said acting Sgt. Rob Simpson in a video posted online.

“Anyone who chooses to participate in illegal activity may be charged, and their vehicle may be towed. Those responsible could be charged at a later date after investigations conclude,” Simpson said in the video.

Anyone with any information can call the Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers to remain anonymous at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

— with files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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