Toronto Car Scene Suffers as a Result of Police Activity

Toronto Car Scene Suffers as a Result of Police Activity

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On a cold October night in Markham, Ontario, car enthusiasts bring their rides out to empty parking lots to share their passion with others.

While they may not be doing anything wrong, these activities are frowned upon by locals, and seen as “illegal” by local law enforcement. Approximately three years ago, York Regional Police, in partnership with other jurisdictions, launched a campaign called “Project E.R.A.S.E”, which stands for Eliminate Racing Activity on Streets Everywhere. The campaign is an evolution of programs created throughout the years, and the goal is exactly what it sounds like.

While street racing and meeting up with friends in parking lots may sound nothing alike, enthusiasts say they are targeted no matter what. As a result of the campaign, many seemingly innocent parking lot shows and meetups have been shut down over the past three years.

“Unfortunately, we’re the ones that get picked on for just sitting here having a good time. It’s easier to pick on us when we’re stopped, than to try to deal with racers in cars twice as fast as a police cruiser.” Liam Chadwick-Simpson says.

Chadwick-Simpson, who used to race go-karts competitively throughout his early teens, is no stranger to high speed, high stress situations, but he prefers to talk with others, rather than street race.

“There’s a time and a place for everything,” Chadwick-Simpson explains. “It’s honestly not worth the risk for me. I’m young, and I’m already by police, and insurers.”

That’s not to say that street racing is not an issue, because it is. Thomas Barrett, another car enthusiast, agrees that street racing can be dangerous.

“No matter how hard you try, street racing won’t be stopped. There’s organized night events all over the city, and if you know where to look, you’ll have no trouble finding them.” Barrett explains.

Barrett is no stranger to street racing, not as a participant, but as a spectator. He doesn’t care for the high-risk factor involved with street racing, but does find it entertaining to watch.

“I understand the crackdown on street racing, cause we have seen some bad crashes,” Barrett continues, “but it’s just ridiculous how many little pop up meets have been shut down as a result.”

Just a simple look around the city can find numerous street races.

The video below shows aerial footage of street racers throughout Toronto

Another argument made in the E.R.A.S.E. campaign is how “uneducated” street racers and car enthusiasts seem to be. Juliana Chiovitti, a racing driver and partner of the campaign, spoke at a conference regarding the world of street racing, and modified cars.

“I don’t think these kids know that as soon as they make a modification on their car, they can void their insurance and their warranty. I think if they knew that, and understood that a little bit better, they wouldn’t do it as much.” is a quote from Chiovatti that stuck out. When enthusiasts were asked about the matter, they disagreed.

“It’s honestly something that I stopped caring about a long time ago. It’s a passion, it runs through my blood.” said Chadwick-Simpson when asked about the quote. “I work hard to afford that next upgrade. It’s a way of expressing myself and making my car unique. At the end of the day, insurance can think whatever they want.”

The current state of the automotive scene in the Greater Toronto Area is a reflection of the impact police activity can have. The past three years have seen lots of events with smaller turnouts, locations moved, or shut down entirely. With all of the police initiatives in the place, the future is anyone’s guess.

“Nothing will stop us,” Barrett says, “it will probably become more difficult, maybe some stricter rules. But nothing is ever going to stop us from sharing our passion with others.”

 

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