Market Crossing on Bryne road in Burnaby is just like any other retail development you’d find in the suburbs. It’s filled with a few major retailers, a couple chain restaurants and a few independent ones as well. It’s all pretty par for the course, except for when the sun starts to set on Thursday evenings. On Thursdays, the large parking lot fills with hundreds of cars and enthusiasts.
A weekly meet of this magnitude in BC’s Lower Mainland is bound to attract some attention – both positive and negative. Unfortunately for us enthusiasts, Thursday June 4 played out more negatively then it did positively. A relatively large group of RCMP were stationed at all entrances of the parking lot performing stop checks.
Cars were stopped while pulling into the parking lot and asked the typical questions about sobriety. However, there appeared to be an ulterior motive for these stops and it wasn’t long until the regular crowd got wise to the fact that vehicle safety was also being considered by the RCMP.
This wasn’t the first time law enforcement had done some type of stop check at the meet. It was, however, the first time I saw it happen so early in the evening and to that extent. In fact, a few weeks ago Kevin from SerialNine was given a box 1 for this UCF20.
Now before we go ahead and get all angry and pop in a tape of NWA, let’s try to look at this rationally. No car enthusiast, young or old, is ever going to be fan of going through a stop check – especially with a customized vehicle. But our sheer displeasure at the thought of going through a stop check isn’t going to stop them from happening. Also, standing on the sidewalk and half-heckling the police while they do their jobs probably doesn’t help either.
Before I arrived at Market Crossing on June 4, I had heard that things were pretty bad inspection-wise. I heard that cars were being towed and vehicle inspections were being handed out like cheap cards in a 4th grade classroom on Valentine’s Day. I half expected the lot to be empty, but much to my surprise it was not. (Side note: not all of the photos in this post are from the June 4th meet, but rather a collection of photos I’ve gathered over the last few weeks.) Although there weren’t as many cars as past weeks, the lot was still full with cars you would and would not expect to make it past a check stop.
The one thing I noticed early on is how quickly speculation turned to fact. It was like watching a really bad game of ‘Telephone.’ Someone would think out loud, their friend would hear it and presume it to be fact. It was actually very hard to figure out what percentage of cars were towed and how many tickets were actually issued.
I can only speak from my experience and what I saw. I don’t doubt that some people were unjustly ticketed, towed or singled out for what they drive. But for me to comment on that would mostly be speculation. I did watch the cops write a warning to Lamborghini for one of those James Bond-esque devices that hide your front plates. I also saw a few people get warned about not properly displaying their “N” sticker. I did not see anyone who was harassed or given a ticket in the parking lot after clearing the check stop. I did see the the police tow at least one driver who was under the influence.
As I made my way to the meet last night, I really wanted this to be a post about how it’s super hard to be enthusiast or how we’re all misunderstood. I was really excited to write an article of outrage, but I’m not outraged. I’m not saying that there aren’t others who are and maybe they have every right to be. I talked to one of the officers and asked him if it was their intention to stop these meets from happening. He assured me that was not the case and they only want to make sure these events stay safe. I’d imagine this answer varied depending on what officer you talked to, but I also suspect most of the law enforcement in attendance shared that sentiment.
That being said, there are things people could do that might help deter negative attention at these meets. 1: maybe just run a front license plate. I get that it’s not cool, but it’s an easy pick for any officer. I’m from Saskatchewan and they aren’t required there, so I should be more mad about this than anyone. But even I suck it up and run one. 2: don’t be an idiot at the meet. Nobody cares that you can do half a burnout and realistically, it’s probably not the most safe thing you can do in a parking lot full of people. 3: stop revving your engine needlessly. We get it – you have an exhaust… so do the other 600 cars in the lot. 4: don’t litter. It’s very easy to use a garbage can, recycling bin or compost container or pick up after yourself until you can locate one of these. Being lucky enough to call Beautiful British Columbia ‘home’ means properly disposing of waste is kind of our thing – next to a high cost of living and rain.
I don’t expect cops to stop giving tickets for things that can, in fact, be ticketed. I’m sure as long as people have been modding cars, someone has been crapping on them for doing it. However, I really like these Thursday night meets. We can’t control what the police do, but we can control what we do and I think that’s the first step to making sure these meets stick around.