A controversial paintball park in Red Deer County has been approved for another five years despite objections from neighbours.
Outcast Paintball Society’s facility in a rural area about 25 km east of Red Deer off Delburne Road was back before county council because it’s previous two-year approval had expired.
The park was rejected in July 2010 by the county’s municipal planning commission after a number of residents came forward with concerns about traffic, noise and its impact on property values.
Two months later, the subdivision and development appeal board overruled that decision and allowed the facility to operate for a two-year trial period.
Neighbours were back before council on Tuesday and said little has changed about the intrusion the paintball park has made into their lives.
Keith Fox, who spoke on behalf of a group of residents, said the noise from the park, including the popping of the paintball guns and the sound of balls hitting metal objects, is repetitive and annoying.
“This facility does not belong where it currently is,” Fox said.
Penny Johnson said the county’s Municipal Development Plan says any proposed land use must consider the impact on neighbours.
“We have eight residences bordering this facility and it affects our quality of life every day,” she said.
The county also received a number of letters from supporters of the facility, who said it provided a safe and well-regulated place for participants in the fast-growing activity.
Outcast owner Jordan Pagacz said he has undertaken a number of measures to reduce the impact on neighbours. A parking lot is to be moved deeper into the site and 2,500 trees have been planted to act as a noise buffer.
Pagacz was applying to have the facility approved as a permanent use and to extend the hours of operation. He told council it was difficult to run a business and hire staff without a long-term guarantee that it would not be shut down by council. Longer hours are needed to better cater to the facility’s clientele.
Several councillors questioned why the county had received no complaints about the paintball facility in the past two years if it was such a nuisance.
“It’s been in operation for two years. I haven’t heard a peep about it,” said Coun. Philip Massier.
Mayor Jim Wood said while no formal complaints may have been made, he has heard from frustrated residents.
Wood suggested delaying a vote until a number of proposals submitted by residents are considered. They included planting mature trees and moving the borders of the park farther from nearby residences.
That was defeated on a 4-1 vote. Wood then suggested the community’s proposals be adopted, which also lost with only Wood in favour.
It was then proposed that the paintball facility be given a five-year approval rather than a permanent one. A compromise was also suggested extending hours to 9 p.m. from 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the other four weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
That motion passed 4-1 with Wood opposed.
Fox said he was disappointed with council’s decision.
“I think we offered some very good comprises to try and make this work for everybody involved and I think we were shortchanged on that.”
Pagacz admitted to “mixed feelings” with council’s approval, which didn’t give him the permanent approval he sought.
He said he is doing his best to develop a business that serves paintball enthusiasts while co-existing with the surrounding community.
But he questions whether some neighbours will ever be satisfied.
“I’d just like to stop wasting resources and try to work together. But I don’t even know if that can happen because we want to talk but no one wants to talk with us.”