'Find a better place': Controversial car meets resurface near some unimpressed residents
EDMONTON -- Local car enthusiasts recently chased from a south side parking lot have resurfaced in west Edmonton, where a number of neighbours are not happy to see — or hear — them.
On July 10, Edmonton police announced that unsanctioned car meets were being shut down in the United Cycle parking lot just south of Whyte Avenue.
A spokesperson for the company told CTV News Edmonton that participants were not respecting the property and not following COVID-19 public health rules, so police and the company erected barricades to keep the cars and motorcycles away.
Brandon Ekert, owner of Arthur’s Carwash and Convenience on 156 Street and 109 Avenue, saw that crackdown as an opportunity.
“I saw the news on the United Cycle meets, and I jumped on that right away hoping that it would drum up business for myself and this old dingy carwash,” Ekert said Wednesday, while surrounded by about 50 cars and roughly 100 enthusiasts.
Ekert said Wednesday night was the third car meet he hosted outside of his car wash, which is located in a strip mall next to a fire station, and surrounded by houses in High Park and Mayfield.
“The first one was bonkers. It filled the parking lot, and out into the residential, which I think maybe bothered some residents,” Ekert said, adding things have mellowed out since then.
Arthur’s opened about three months ago, and Ekert said the car meets were keeping his business going.
He did acknowledge, however, that some of his guests have taken their collective love of speed and engine-revving too far.
“Sorry residents that are a little chapped about the whole thing. You know, maybe I could go a bit further in my diligence so people know this isn’t a place to cause a racket,” Ekert said.
RESIDENTS NOT HAPPY WITH NEW LOCATION
But for Tina Taylor, who lives around the corner from the strip mall, it’s just not the right spot for a car show-and-shine.
“Wednesday is very loud. They burn up and down the street, burn rubber, speeding like crazy. They’re very rude, if we ask them to slow down or anything, they swear at us,” Taylor said.
CTV News Edmonton spoke to two other neighbours Wednesday who shared Taylor’s concerns about noise and speed.
“I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Including them, you know, if they run over someone their life is over too,” Taylor said. “I’m sure they could find a better place than a residential neighbourhood.”
Ekert pegged the number of people breaking the rules at about five per cent. Taylor argued it was more like 50 per cent.
While CTV News Edmonton was at the site Wednesday, burnouts, loud revving and/or stunting were seen or heard at least 10 times in about an hour-and-a-half.
Taylor said she’s called police three times to complain, but no officers ever arrived.
“Lots of people are calling the cops, and they’ve never showed up,” Taylor said.
ORGANIZER TO ENCOURAGE QUIET
Ekert confirmed that police have not been to his lot since he started the car meets, and said that no neighbours have complained to him directly. He hopes to keep hosting the events all summer.
But Ekert agreed he may have to ban rule breakers and said he’d keep repeating a simple message to his guests: “keep it down a little bit and use your head.”
Loud vehicles and speeding have been common resident concerns across Edmonton in 2020.
Project TENSOR (Traffic Enforcement Noise/Speed Offence Reduction) was launched in May after an outcry from the public, business owners and city councillors.
Police announced Tuesday that they’ve since written 1,200 tickets and warnings to people breaking speed, noise and vehicle equipment laws as part of Project TENSOR.
Asked about the relocated meet-ups, Edmonton Police Service said in a statement while it respected the "dedication and passion" in the car enthusiast community, "respect must be reciprocal and take into consideration the safety and convenience of the public. City streets will not be used as drag strips."
EPS reminded car and motorcycle enthusiasts that Castrol Speedway, south of Edmonton, is an "exceptional venue" for racing.