Wasaga Beach calls for provincial task force on unsanctioned car rallies

Wasaga Beach council wants the province to rev its legal authority and help municipalities take action against unsanctioned car rallies.

For starters, the government is being urged to create a task force and work with the town and the region on “coordinated, sustainable solutions.”

Council also wants changes to the municipal act to strengthen the ability for towns and cities to respond to illegal car rallies.

The ask includes:

  • Investigate legislative enhancements and tools to assist municipalities in responding and enforcing unsanctioned car rallies.
  • Investigate expanded powers for Municipal Law Enforcement officers.*
  • Develop a proactive approach to awareness, prevention, enforcement and collaboration across all enforcement personnel, including police, municipal law enforcement officers and other provincial offences officers.
  • Investigate harsher penalties and increased fines for unsanctioned car rally organizers and participants.

The motion also requests that the province provide funding to municipalities to assist with the cost of enforcing unsanctioned car rallies.

“The situation is certainly not unique to Wasaga Beach,” stated Mayor Brian Smith in a news release on Thursday.

The town and police put out all the stops to deter a planned illegal car rally over the Labour Day weekend.

“Staff developed a proactive plan, executed the plan, and the plan worked,” added Smith.

The mayor is referencing a three-tier emergency response plan he says was developed between May and August, driven by council and the town’s Municipal Law Enforcement Department, in cooperation with first responders including the OPP.

“It is based on the provincially mandated emergency response framework, outlined in the Municipal Act that is typically used during natural disasters and emergencies,” according to the town.

The municipality says actions taken prevented a 500-vehicle car rally.

The measures included road closures, traffic diversion and calming measures, and an attempt to stop modified vehicles from entering the town. Signs advising the public of changes under the car rally bylaw were installed at entrance points to the community.

“To anyone that feels the Town’s actions were detrimental to our tourism economy over the long weekend – we point to the 12,000 guests that chose to celebrate the last long weekend of summer in Wasaga Beach,” said CAO Andrew McNeill. “Our past and our vision for the future of Wasaga Beach is family friendly fun. If your business plan relies on this illegal event and non-law-abiding demographic, it might be time for you to revisit your business plan. It’s very important that we send a message that we do not welcome this activity in the Town of Wasaga Beach.”

Banner image: File Photo