Canatara Park car enthusiasts want other Sarnians to know the speeders, drag racers and muffler-challenged are a small minority seemingly intent on ruining it for everyone.
“The guys that go there love their cars. Half of them put their entire paycheques into their cars,” said Zack Kettle, 22, who heads to Canatara to socialize a couple times a week.
The beach parking lot is a great place to meet and talk with others about car culture, and always has been, he said.
“Seems like there’s always those couple of guys that try to ruin it for everyone. It’s more frustrating that some guy, or a couple guys, are doing this late at night.”
Park neighbours are upset about vehicles racing in and around Canatara and “road bullies with loud mufflers” who congregate after the park closes at midnight.
Several petitions are circulating, and the City of Sarnia and Town of Point Edward both say they’re reviewing options to address the problem, including stronger police enforcement, speed bumps and retractable bollards at park entrances.
Mallory Potter, 20, said she’s been going to the park regularly for more than two years to hang out with friends after work.
It’s frustrating “for everyone” that drivers are breaking park rules, especially after hours, she said.
“Three in the morning is really ridiculous. It’s the select few that ruin it for everyone else.”
Potter said people who want to drag race should go to a real track, like the one in Grand Bend.
“Just take it somewhere else,” she said.
Young people showing off souped-up cars are nothing new in Sarnia. Tab’s drive-In opened around 1960 and its two locations on Colborne Road and the Golden Mile were a main attraction for young people in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“We would drive into Sarnia, go drag-racing down the side streets, and hang out at Tab’s later,” Camlachie resident Doug Christopher recalled in a 2016 Journal story.
Potter and Kettle both say they fully support increased enforcement in the park, especially after hours.
“Just to go in every now and then and say, ‘Hey, this park is closed,’ because it’s posted on both ends,” Potter said.
They also sympathize with the impacted residents living near Canatara, and hope a few rule-breakers won’t hurt their ability to gather there to appreciate each other’s cars.
“Canatara is a very nice park,” said Kettle. “I am sorry, 100%, that there are guys trying to ruin it.”