Town officials and police in Goderich say they’re ready for any disruptive weekend car rally in the Huron County town, as officials in another southern Ontario community warned of a repeat of a troublesome such event held there.
“We’ve done as much preparation as possible in anticipation that it will happen,” said Myles Murdock, acting mayor of Goderich.
“And if (the community) is prepared, like I believe we are, we’ll muddle through it as best we can, regardless of which weekend they select,” he said, noting the unwanted event may take place next weekend instead.
On Friday, provincial police issued a renewed warning of a potential “unsolicited and unsanctioned” car rally modelled after one held in Wasaga Beach Aug. 26-28 that resulted in nearly 200 charges laid. That event saw several participants engaging in “illegal acts,” including mischief, dangerous driving, impaired driving, disturbing the peace, and break and entering, police said.
Huron OPP Const. Jamie Stanley said police don’t know exactly when or if the event is coming to Goderich, but that “intel” gathered from social media and other sources indicates it could take place this weekend or next.
“We do have what we believe to be a good, robust plan to deal with the situation, should it present itself. But at this point in time, we haven’t seen a large number of any vehicles coming into our community,” Stanley said mid-afternoon Friday.
Meanwhile, Wasaga Beach officials warn of another potential unauthorized car rally in the community this weekend. Mayor Nina Bifolchi said there would be an increased police presence, with officers taking a strict approach to any illegal activity.
Participants in the last rally showed a “complete disregard” for public safety and various laws,” she said.
Should the car rally descend on Goderich this weekend, residents should be prepared for potential road closings and report any illegal activity to police, officials say.
“We do have the necessary resources in place, and we don’t want people to try to take the law into their own hands,” Stanley said.
As for those thinking about participating in the weekend car rally, Stanley has a clear message. “If you come with the intent to cause damage in the community, whether that be to buildings, to property, or endanger our community residents, then certainly we’ll have the necessary resources there to handle the situation,” he said, adding they can expect “strict, but fair enforcement.”
With files from the Canadian Press
Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press