Open Letter to Parents – Bridgwater Speed & Racing
This message is for everyone, but is directed to parents with a request that you talk to your kids about the deathly dangers of speed.
In my graduating year, two classmates died when a powerful car they were passengers in crashed and rolled. The following year, when I was 18, the doorbell rang one morning, and the Police informed my Mom, my sister and two brothers, our dad was killed in a vehicle crash. Lives changed forever. Parents, I might seem overly aggressive in my approach to road safety, and I apologize. I want to share with you what I witnessed this past Saturday night, and ask you to please talk to your kids. And please, share this message with other parents. This is the start of summer, of fun times, and hopefully, a safe summer. Your help is appreciated.
SPEEDING / NOISE CALLS:
- Every summer, I received many calls/emails about speeding on Kenaston and the associated noise of powerful vehicles. Following the May long weekend, I received another batch of calls. It’s a well known fact to Waverley West residents and the Winnipeg Police Service, that groups of people with high end / powerful vehicles meet on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:00pm in the parking lot of Save on Foods in Bridgwater Center. Powerful vehicles gather, rev engines, drift in the Save on Foods parking lot and then race up and down Kenaston into the early hours of the morning.
- This past Saturday evening, a resident and I went to observe what happens. Some may say this isn’t a Councillor’s role to be so hands-on. Well, there is no handbook on a Councillor’s job description. Speeding is a huge concern of mine and the residents in the ward I represent. I have the ability to work to make roads safer, and I will do all I can. So, we sat in our vehicle and watched the events unfold. It was raining, so we weren’t expecting much action – how wrong we were.
9:45 – 10:20 pm:
- Approximately 40 vehicles drove into the parking lot and parked. Young people were standing around checking out the vehicles, revving engines, looking under the hoods, getting pizza and hanging out.
- There were some very distinguishable high-end powerful vehicles, others were older models with modifications, and many others were trucks, some high end, others not.
- The demographic was young people – ages approximately 18-25. Many had 3 or 4 friends in their vehicle. Some were travelling alone.
- Around 10:20 pm, everyone got in their vehicles, and all started leaving Save on Foods parking lot – exiting east onto North Town Rd. The resident and I joined the lineup of exiting vehicles.
- As we pulled up to the red light beside Tim Horton’s, eight vehicles ahead of us went through the red light, turning left onto Kenaston. Yes, through the red light.
- The resident and I didn’t go through the red light – and have to assume others behind us would have – had we not been stopped waiting for the light to turn green. I called Winnipeg Police and reported this traffic infraction and what was unfolding.
Once on Kenaston, vehicles started racing past us. Vehicles then turned northbound on Kenaston – and took off. Resident and I kept to the 80 km speed limit, but many many vehicles sped past us. It was pouring rain, roads were slick, and the resident and I figured since we weren’t going to speed and keep up with them, we would turn around. We turned around at Grant and Kenaston and headed back to Bridgwater.
On our way back, we saw a two car crash at McGillivary and Kenaston. I cannot tell you how horrible it was to see the crash, right after seeing so many young people earlier. We weren’t sure if the crashed vehicles were any that were in the group of vehicles that left Save On parking lot – but – after seeing the disregard for stopping at a red light earlier, it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to think someone may have run the red light at McGillivary and other vehicles swerved to miss and crash. I will note that McGillivary and Kenaston is one of the top collision intersections in Winnipeg. There are many high collision intersections on Kenaston, but McGillivary has the highest numbers of collisions.
- Resident and I returned to Save on Foods parking lot to discuss the situation and noticed there were more vehicles in the parking lot – revving their engines and drifting. By this point, the Winnipeg Police had shown up. I spoke to them; they were familiar with this regular occurrence and were going to talk to people on the parking lot.
- The resident left, and I went south on Kenaston towards Perimeter. As I passed the new Altea Active center, I recognized about 20 vehicles parked in the Altea lot from earlier in the evening. Revving engines and hanging out.
I’ve made a full report to Police, including license plates of some vehicles. Dash cam’s are also handy devices. I’ve asked the Winnipeg Police Service to send ghost cars out for the future and requested they too ‘get in the line’ and follow as the vehicles leave the parking lot. As a Councillor, I cannot direct the Winnipeg Police Service to do anything; I can only report and make suggestions. I will continue to urge residents to report racing cars and associated noise. Residents must report: 204- 986-9222 or online at https://winnipeg.ca/police/report/#traffic
Area residents, the Winnipeg Police and I are doing all we can. We need your help too.
- I’m assuming because the majority of the drivers were young, that many still live at home as the cost of a hot vehicle and an apartment is probably out of reach for most. Although some of the youth we saw may live on their own as their parents may be living abroad.
- If your kid has a hot vehicle, please speak to them about the dangers of racing cars in the City. Speed kills. Lives can change in an instant.
- If you have a son or daughter that hangs out with kids with hot vehicles, talk to them about what can happen if they are a passenger when the driver of a speeding vehicle loses control.
We all think we are invincible when we are young, or it won’t happen to us. But bad decisions are made every day.
This racing on Kenaston and the disregard for rules of the road must stop. Please know residents, the Winnipeg Police and I are doing all things possible to eliminate racing on Kenaston and enable safer streets for everyone. Parents, please talk to your kids and help the situation.