Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi has nothing but praise for first responders and nothing but disgust for those who packed an unsanctioned car rally this weekend.
“A huge thank you to Huronia West detachment and all other resources and agencies that came to town this weekend to assist. I don’t know that they could have done more.”
The mayor called out those who attended the rally and ignored COVID-19 guidelines.
“Along with my residents here, I’m angry,” said Bifolchi. “The total disregard for our community, respect for rules and the COVID situation was disgusting. That’s not the type of tourism we want to see here.”
Several videos posted to social media show cars doing burnouts with throngs of people gathered in close proximity, most not wearing masks.
Police closed Wasaga Beach to non-residents Saturday night. Spot checks were set up at entrances to the town and only those who could prove they lived in Wasaga Beach were allowed to pass.
Bifolchi said she will be briefed on Monday as to how many tickets police handed out.
Provincial police said many tickets were issued for stunt driving and other traffic infractions.
The province implemented stricter social gathering limits earlier this month following a spike in COVID-19 cases. There is no word if police wrote up anyone for violating the guidelines.
To be fair, the mayor said police had to prioritize their responses as situations came up.
“When you’ve got a car spinning in the middle of the crowd, that kind of took precedence. As much as COVID rules were thrown out the window over the weekend, there were other matters that were more urgent in the moment.”
She add there was no way the OPP could have fined everybody that was not wearing a mask.
The OPP were assisted by other police agencies including those from York and Peel. A police helicopter was also brought in, and some officers were spotted with non-lethal guns.
A few weeks ago, police in Hamilton shut down a car rally at a drive-in theatre parking lot in Ancaster attended by hundreds of people.
Bifolchi said speaking to the premier about what can be done is an option.
She is also angered by the huge expense this weekend had on the pocketbook.
“I look at the resources that were brought in this weekend, like the helicopter. We had Peel and York Regional Police helping us. That’s a huge expense to the province.”
What is really frustrating to the mayor is those who plan these events.
“They sit in the shadows. They are unnamed. They are unaccountable. That really speaks volumes to the event and its legitimacy.”
Provincial police said late Sunday afternoon that enforcement focused primarily on unsafe vehicles, dangerous driving behaviours and ROA compliance. The OPP are currently updating the various charges and impoundments that happened over the weekend.