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Province approves paintball tenure despite RMOW opposition

The province is offering Whistler Paintball Adventures a three-year land tenure to operate in the Wedgemount area...

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The province is offering Whistler Paintball Adventures a three-year land tenure to operate in the Wedgemount area, against the municipality’s wishes.

Councillor Nick Davies, who expressed concern about the tenure application when it first came before council at the beginning of March, said he was surprised and disappointed by the decision.

"Council made it clear that we didn’t think it was in the best interests of our community (to put the paintball activities in that location)," said Davies this week.

Council also didn’t think granting the paintball tenure so close to some of the best mountain biking trails in the valley was a good idea, he said.

He added that the decision by Land and Water B.C. doesn’t say much for the partnership between the RMOW and the provincial government agencies.

The Regional Manager of LWBC Alec Drysdale said the municipality’s concerns were duly noted in the decision making process but were overridden by other government agencies.

"With any application we review all of the comments and we weigh all of the concerns," he said.

"That’s how our referral process works. We look to various levels of government and other ministry agencies for specialized comments."

For example, among Whistler council’s concerns was the negative impact the paintball activities would have on the ground vegetation in the area.

But Drysdale said the government’s environmental ministry, the Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection, did not raise any red flags about the environmental issues.

"We look to them as being the experts in environmental issues and they didn’t raise any concerns," he said.

"So it’s not that we ignore (the RMOW’s) comment but we look to the appropriate agency or the appropriate level of government to provide comment in our decision."

Another key factor in granting the application was that the area is in a timber license area and ultimately the whole area could be cut. This fact weakened the environmental argument.

Drysdale explained that had the municipality raised concerns about the zoning of the land being incongruent with paintball activities, that concern would have been given more weight.

When the application went before council for review, Davies and Councillor Caroline Lamont expressed their concerns about the proximity of the proposed paintball course to the mountain biking trails, namely Whistler’s longest and one of its newest trails, Comfortably Numb.

"My concern was the conflict between the mountain bikers and paintballers shooting high speed projectiles around," said Davies, adding that paintball operations should be on a piece of land, away from other recreational activities.

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