Council amends paintball bylawGilson votes against it

Council passed a revised version of its bylaw which regulates the use of paintball guns in town limits at Monday night’s meeting, amending it to make some exceptions to the rule.
While council first approved implementation of controls over the use of paintball guns back on Jan. 20, 2000, and passed a bylaw regarding it on April 24 of that year, council approved a recommendation from the Planning and Development executive committee at Monday night’s meeting to revise the regulatory controls over the discharge of paintball guns within town boundaries.
A new bylaw then was draw up and voted on at the same meeting.
Under the new bylaw, the discharge of paintball guns inside the geographic boundaries of the Town of Fort Frances is still prohibited.
But any person aged 19 years or over may apply to the Town of Fort Frances for a licence to operate a paintball park, or for a “one-time use” permit to discharge paintball guns at the location and date so designated on the permit.
When it came time for council to vote on the amended bylaw, Coun. Struchan Gilson made it clear he would have no part of it. “It shouldn’t be a bylaw in the first place,” he stressed.
“We live in a culture that is dominated by violence. And to allow in our community people to shoot each other, even if it is with paint, is the wrong message to be sending,” he added. “We shouldn’t allow it period.
“It’s morally wrong to licence a game where you shoot another human being. I think it’s unconscionable this council would allow a game where you shoot another human being,” Coun. Gilson concluded.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft noted the Planning and Development executive committee discussed the bylaw at length after being approached by a local resident to review it.
Ultimately, the committee felt the amended bylaw still would do what the old one intended—prevent the unsupervised discharge of paintball guns in town.
“We can’t be the moral conscience of the Town of Fort Frances,” noted Mayor Dan Onichuk, adding every councillor probably has individual likes and dislikes but they can’t force that on the public.
After making it clear he didn’t want to make light of Coun. Gilson’s argument, the mayor joked he’d like to have people stop feeding deer and raccoons in town so then the animals would stop coming into his yard and eating out of his garden.
Council ended up passing the bylaw by a vote of 4-1. Mayor Onichuk and Couns. Wiedenhoeft, Neil Kabel, and Tannis Drysdale voted for it while Coun. Gilson was against.
Coun. Todd Hamilton abstained on the grounds he had a conflict of interest. His father, Bob Hamilton, owns the Little Beaver Snow Park—a possible site for paintball games.
Bob Hamilton previously had requested a review of the old bylaw regarding paintball guns in July, 2003.
The bylaw, as passed by council Monday, notes that even if a person of age is issued a permit or licence, these would carry an appropriate fee.
As well, the person who has been issued a licence or permit under this bylaw also would:
•be responsible for the supervision and safe conduct of all person participating in paintball gun activity, and to include, but not be limited to, the wearing of proper safety equipment and the safe discharge of paintball guns; and
•carry personal injury and property damage insurance in an amount not less than $1 million per occurrence, and save the town from any liabilities as a result of personal injury, death, or property damage.
Additionally, the bylaw states no person shall discharge a paintball gun within 30 metres of the travelled portion of any roadway or within 30 metres of any adjoining property.
Every person who contravenes any provision of the bylaw is, upon conviction, guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty as provided in the Provincial Offences Act.

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