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Paintball Adventures applies for Wedgemount tenure license

Whistler council does not support application, final decision rests with province Local council has shot down an application from Whistler Paintball Adventures to move its operations to the Wedgemount area.

Whistler council does not support application, final decision rests with province

Local council has shot down an application from Whistler Paintball Adventures to move its operations to the Wedgemount area.

Despite this decision, the provincial government will make the final call on the tenure application, with or without local government's approval.

"While I (would have) liked to make a decision today (Tuesday), there's information that I still need to go through," said Kevin Lee, commercial recreation manager with Land and Water B.C.

"Of course, the RMOW resolution is one of those sources of information that I need to review.

"It's one of many information sources I need to consider. It's not the prevailing one."

On Monday night Whistler council voted against the application, as recommended by municipal staff.

Chief among the concerns about the paintball company operating in the Wedgemount area was the negative impact paintball activities would have on ground vegetation, as well as the close proximity to biking/hiking trails.

"I'm not so sure that I buy the impact on vegetation (argument)," said Councillor Nick Davies, adding that the mountain bike trails also adversely affect the ground vegetation.

For Davies, the question comes down to existing use. The trails in that area, namely Comfortably Numb, the Green Lake Loop and the Wedgemount hiking trail, are heavily used and paintball activities could conflict with that use.

This conflict between mountain bikers and paintball players has happened already at the company's current location on the Rainbow lands said Councillor Caroline Lamont. The trail Shit Happens flows by the boundaries of Whistler Paintball Adventures and has presented hazards to mountain bikers in the past.

"I think that conflict was at no fault of the operator," she said.

This new location however, would put paintball players next to bikers on the new Comfortably Numb mountain bike trail.

"Comfortably Numb isn't just a mountain bike trail," said Lamont.

"It's almost a destination trail that people will be coming from all over to ride."

The 10-year license application from Whistler Paintball Adventures is just one of about 30 different commercial recreation tenure applications in the Squamish Forest District that are currently before the province.

Councillor Ken Melamed called it an "explosion" of applications and told council they should be tremendously cautious and discerning about the onslaught of applications on neighbouring Crown land.

"I really don't want to get into the full rant (right now)," he said.

"(But) these things just keep proliferating at a rate beyond our control."

The provincial government has developed a program called the Commercial Recreation Tenure Incentive program.

The program was developed to encourage businesses conducting commercial recreation on Crown land to apply for tenure.

Once an application is formally accepted, LWBC must make a decision on the application within 140 days.

Mayor Hugh O'Reilly said there is a distinct mandate at the provincial level to create jobs and revenues for the province. As such, it is in their best interests to approve commercial recreation tenures.

Whistler Paintball Adventures has been operating on private land between Alpine and Emerald, known as the Rainbow lands, since 1990.

Municipal staff explained that the company is looking to move because the Rainbow lands could be developed in the future and the paintball operation could be evicted.

A 10-year Crown land tenure would ensure their long term operating viability. The company estimates it will have 350 clients in 2004 and will almost double that number by 2008.

Both Councillors Marianne Wade and Gordon McKeever asked staff to help Whistler Paintball Adventures find a more suitable spot for the paintball activities.

In the meantime Kevin Lee at LWBC said he would be making a recommendation soon. Alec Drysdale, regional manager of the LWBC Surrey office, will make the final decision.

"All I can say is it's going to be soon," said Lee.

"I cannot put a timeframe to that."