Video shows stunt driving during 'car takeover' in Wasaga Beach
Published Sunday, September 27, 2020 1:14PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 27, 2020 8:34PM EDT
Ontario Provincial Police have released aerial footage showing large crowds watching drivers perform stunts during an unsanctioned car "takeover" in Wasaga Beach this weekend.
Video captured by OPP helicopter shows cars doing burnouts as spectators are seen filming the stunt with their phones.
Drivers were also seen racing and performing donuts in other videos posted on social media.
The OPP said they believe thousands of car enthusiasts, mainly non-residents, flocked the beach town to attend the weekend event.
Later in the video, several OPP cruisers could be seen arriving at the gatherings to break them up.
"Those were popping up around town and would disappear as quickly as they pop up," OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said.
"That's part of their tactic that they use to distract police -- maybe at one end of town and then do another gathering at another end."
Folz said the OPP temporarily closed the town Saturday evening, turning visitors away, as it became impossible to enforce COVID-19 gathering rules due to the size of the crowd.
"In the interest of public safety, we were trying to limit the number of people that continued to flow into the town of a second beach. And we did that by doing road stops and roadblocks and, and only allowing those into the town that live there," Folz said.
Ahead of the event, the OPP had called additional officers from York and Peel regions to help them control the crowds. The town also installed extra speed bumps in various public parking lots to deter drivers.
The event is believed to be related to a larger car rally south of the border, Folz noted, adding that the Canadian group decided to get together in Wasaga Beach due to the border closure.
He said some vehicles were seized, and tickets were issued under the Highway Traffic Act and the Reopening Ontario Act, which currently limits outdoor gatherings to 25 people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're seeing many videos pop up on the internet of people doing donuts at intersections with others trying to film it at very close proximity, others hanging out of windows. It will end up in a fatality here at some point, and we're trying to limit that in the interest of public safety," Folz said.
"We're trying to stop that driving behaviour."
Folz said the total number of charges will be released on Monday.
Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi said on Sunday that the unauthorized event was unacceptable.
"We saw a lot of disrespect for the community, for law enforcement and for COVID rules," Bifolchi said.
Folz couldn't say if participants in the Wasaga Beach event were part of the same group that held a large gathering in the Hamilton area last weekend, but he noted similarities between the two.
One of the event participants who is from Montreal said they're going to take over the town again next year.
"They just weren't ready for a big crowd like us. But I mean, at least they'll be prepared for next year," he said.
"Nobody can stop us."
- with files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Barrie