March 16, 2007

York cops welcome action on street racing

York Region's streets might be a little quieter soon, as the province is set to clamp down on street racing.

Queen's Park is planning to table legislation in the spring to increase fines and make it easier for authorities to immediately seize vehicles involved in racing, Transport Minister Donna Cansfield said.

"Anything that is enacted to make it easier to take vehicles right there and then is something I'd support," York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge said Wednesday. "We need all the tools we can get."

Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees met yesterday with people marching to raise awareness of street racing.

The group began its trek Tuesday at the site of an alleged street racing collision in Hamilton that killed Matthew Powers, 21, last November.

A provincial roundtable was called on street racing by the governing Liberals in November, but no concrete action has been taken since, Mr. Klees said this week.

"It is easy to call a roundtable discussion, hold a press conference and hope it goes away," said Mr. Klees.

He has proposed a private members bill, which would see offenders' licences suspended, their vehicles impounded and ban driving vehicles on roads with nitrous oxide boosters attached.

That bill remains on the provincial order paper, he said.

York Region is no exception to the deadly consequences of the racing. Last summer, Rob and Lisa Manchester of Richmond Hill were killed when they were broadsided by a Honda while trying to make a left turn at Yonge Street and Stouffville Road.

Police say the Honda was racing.

In June, Attorney General Michael Bryant and Chief La Barge held a news conference in Markham destroying two street racing cars seized under Ontario's Civil Remedies Act.

"We recognize street racing as something that put our citizens at risk," Chief La Barge said.

"All it takes is one person making a turn or coming out of their driveway and we have a catastrophe on our hands."

At this point, Mr. Klees would be content with any legislation on street racing.

"We hear the call from police services, the reminders are there and if governments choose to ignore it they are liable," he said.

In December, federal Bill C-19 came into force providing mandatory minimum driving prohibitions for those convicted of street racing and more jail time for serious racing offences.


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