Paintball course taking action to return to play in Cambridge

Flag Raiders Paintball is requesting a Minister's Zoning Order (MZO) to try and get approval to once again operate on the piece of land they own at 1500 Kossuth Road in Cambridge.

According to Corey Kimpson and her brother Joe, the co-owners of Flag Raiders, the application is another tool to try and bring back their business at the location.

At the same time as the MZO application, Flag Raiders has been trying to get the City of Cambridge to approve a temporary use order on the land. According to the City of Cambridge, a special public meeting is being held on May 17, to hear input on a possible temporary zoning by-law. If approved, Flag Raiders could operate as early as the summer.

“We have so many people calling and emailing asking, when can they come play paintball,” Corey Kimpson, a co-owner of Flag Raiders Paintball said.

The Kimpsons first moved from a nearby property in Woolwich to Kossuth Road back in 2000, but the two did not know the land was actually in Cambridge.

“We were naive. We didn't think anything of it. So at the time, we purchased the property and then learned that it wasn't zoned,” Corey Kimpson said.

Flag Raiders received approval for a three-year temporary use by-law and started operating in Cambridge in 2000. The company received another temporary approval, but were denied on the third application as neighbours complained about excessive noise.

Flag Raiders eventually moved their operation to Bingemans in Kitchener, while still owning the property in Cambridge. During the pandemic, Bingemans sold the land Flag Raiders was using, so the group decided to try and return to Kossuth Road.

According to Corey Kimpson, paintball markers are quieter than ever, and the area around the land in Cambridge is now louder with the expansion of the nearby airport and new road infrastructure.

Flag Raiders said many of their clients also come from the Greater Toronto Area, and tournaments can draw visitors from across the province. It believes it can be an economic help for the Region of Waterloo.

“An economic impact study done with Explore Waterloo Region Tourism, looked at our three 2019 events, bringing in $508,000 in economic spin off for the region. And that's when people come to the area and they stay for the weekend. Just like any other sports tournament,” Corey Kimpson said.

Neighbours of the property like Christopher Day, who has lived on Beaverdale Road near Flag Raiders since it first moved in to Cambridge, said the noise from people playing paintball was always too loud.

“It's gonna be the same thing all over again,” Christopher Day said. “You’d hear automatic gunfire, you’d hear horns, you’d hear music, you’d hear people yelling, some of them swearing. That's what it was like. So we said we got to get them out of here,”

Day said he also worries about the example paintball sets for young kids.

“This is not a game. This is people running around in frickin’ army suits, trying to shoot each other was semi-automatic guns,” Day said. “War game is an oxymoron. It's not a sport. There is no such thing as sport where you go around shooting people.”

The Kimpsons said their events have evolved to be less political and more geared towards video game fantasies and team building.

“It's gone from perception of a bunch of men crawling around the forest. Now, it's played by kids or corporate team building. We have ballet studios, girl's soccer teams,” Joe Kimpson said.

There is no timeline for the MZO, but Corey Kimpson said Flag Raiders is also holding unofficial meetings with neighbours, in hopes of smoothing out differing opinions.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said “The MZO process is kickstarted by a supportive Council Resolution from the local municipality. At this time, we have not received a resolution from the City of Cambridge requesting an MZO for this project."