'Mega meet' of cars targeted by police in Kitchener, Guelph, and Ancaster
KITCHENER -- Police were out just hours after the province’s announcement to limit social gatherings in hopes of shutting down a "mega meet" of cars.
Car enthusiasts were planning to gather Saturday night in Kitchener and Guelph.
Social media posts from a group called "Northside Crew" first invited people to Strasburg Road in Kitchener for "Mega Meet 2.0" before changing the location to a movie theatre parking lot in Guelph.
Some of the videos have since been removed. The group says they are not responsible for organizing the event.
Guelph police arrived at the Woodlawn Road location in hopes of discouraging behaviour like careless and dangerous driving that they say can come with meets like this as well as hampering police responses by blocking intersections.
The meeting was then moved a third time to Ancaster, where social media video showed police arriving on scene as well.
“Part of the problem is the organizers don’t make themselves known, they don’t seek permission from property owners to have meets on private property,” said Sgt. Raymond Gordon of Guelph Police Service. “That’s been part of the problem and that’s why we’re here today.”
Hamilton police tell CTV News that 500 cars were on hand in Ancaster, while one attendee says there were closer to 400.
"I was wearing my mask the entire time but there were people who weren't," said Jenan Pritto. "The cops didn't do anything. They were just parked up with their lights on, they didn't tell us to leave or anything."
Police clarified they wanted to callin Peel Regional, York Regional Police, and the OPP to come in and help them out first.
A staff sergeant says the main concern was potential for racing and dangerous activity, but the large group gathering and potentially spreading COVID-19 was also an issue of note.
Police add that charges are possible as they look for the organizers of the event.
"We absolutely think the actions last night, in light of the concern with COVID-19, are abhorrent," said Supt. Will Mason of Hamiltion Police. "The participants should be ashamed of themselves.
"If we can identify them and we are able to lay charges down the road we certainly will be doing that."
Police add that those involved were very cooperative and dispersed within minutes of being asked to leave.
In a statement from Ontario premier Doug Ford, he says, "the reckless behaviour we saw last night in Ancaster was totally unacceptable" and adds that "the fight against COVID-19 isn't over, now is not the time to let our guard down."
Pritto says more car meets are expected despite the new restrictions.
"People don't care," he said. "People just do whatever to see other people's cars."
Anyone who knows the organizers are being asked to contact police or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers.