Maple Ridge city council is proceeding with a plan by Delta Force to establish a new paintball and laser tag operation on a 32 hectare site on 128th Avenue.
Coun. Gordy Robson spoke against the plan as a poor use of the land – and on moral grounds – at meetings on both Jan. 18 and 25.
He said neighbours oppose the business, and it will provide no “meaningful” employment.
“We’re searching the municipality at great length for industrial land, and this is 80 acres of potential industrial land. Could the planning department square that with me?” asked Robson. “Why wouldn’t we be looking to turn this into employment lands, instead of the use that’s proposed?”
Director of planning Chuck Goddard answered that the use is considered temporary, by a tenant, and the site could be developed in future if the owner wants to proceed. The buildings on the site will be temporary, there will be no use of city services, and gravel extraction that is taking place there now could continue, he said.
“In this day and age, I just don’t like the concept of practising killing people,” added Robson. “I just can’t support it.”
The plan was supported by the rest of council. The rural properties are at 25927 and 25801 128th Ave. Most of the site is forested, and will remain that way, except for a parking area of 68 stalls.
There will be five game zones, each less than an acre in size, and the entire operation will take up only about 2.5 of the 32 hectares.
The operator will seek approval for a maximum capacity of 150 customers per session during the busiest months, typically summer, and there would be up to 10 employees on site.
“The project aims to offer a recreational opportunity that allows for physical exercise and socializing in a natural setting. This use, when combined with the nearby (indoor) BMX facility and Wild Play, will contribute to a growing tourist recreation node developing in the northeast quadrant of the city,” said the staff report.
There was a public comment period in May, and 11 people offered feedback to the city. Their complaints were noise, traffic, paint balls flying out of the playing area, alcohol and substance use and environmental impacts. An environmental assessment was done by Delta Force, and a management plan prepared to ensure the business don’t impact the environment.
Seamus Fraser of Delta Force Paintball said vegetation will act as a sound and visual barrier, and tests show the sounds will be no greater for the nearest neighbour than traffic noises.
He noted movie shoots that been done there could still happen. Gravel extraction is not active, but could be mined at future date.
“Our operation won’t inhibit those operations taking place,” said Fraser.
The city will impose a condition that any buildings or structures for the business be temporary.
Council approved first and second reading of the necessary bylaws, and the project will proceed to a public hearing.
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