Canada

Nearly 200 charges, citations after Wasaga Beach free-for-all

After this weekend’s unsanctioned automotive free-for-all that took over Wasaga Beach, the OPP issued nearly 200 charges from careless driving to non-compliance with provincial pandemic rules.

Police handed out 172 tickets during the melee for careless driving, stunt driving and speeding under the Highway Traffic Act, as well as equipment-related charges for muffler, lighting and tire infractions.

Fourteen vehicles were impounded, and eleven charges were laid under the COVID-19 related Reopening Ontario Act.

No charges were laid after thousands turned up at an unsanctioned “Mega Meet” in an Ancaster cinema parking lot last week.

Many attending either event, which far exceeded rules limiting attendance at outdoor gatherings, made no effort to social distance or wear face masks.

While videos of burnouts and dangerous driving garnered condemnation, local car clubs have become an undeserved target of public scorn.

“Everybody’s getting painted with the same brush,” said Rob Hawkins, vice-president of Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club.

“This is going to cause problems for all of us.”

The thousands of people — many from out-of-province — who took over Wasaga Beach did so without any central organization, Hawkins said.

Facebook shows several expired or cancelled events organizing cruises to the Wasaga Beach “H2Oi” car meet , and an “H2Oi Canada” Instagram account was deleted by Monday morning.

H2O International — billed as America’s “most ticketed car show” — ceased to exist officially years ago, yet the name is still appropriated by loosely-organized car events.

Many appeared to be from Quebec, Hawkins said — judging by the accents of those in videos, cruise events posted on Facebook and drivers licence checks he overheard on his police scanner.

Highway 11 Cruisers, he said, does hold show n’ shines, cruises and burn-out competitions, but they’re all done legitimately — with proper permits and at approved sites with full consent of property owners.

Many of these events, which also serve as successful charity fundraisers, have been cancelled due to the pandemic — and the few they could hold, like an upcoming autumn colours cruise, have been cancelled.

“A small section of the car community is having a negative effect on everybody,” he said.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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