Mission resident Seven Graylands has 45 pinball machines and wants to open a pinball museum and arcade in downtown Mission. / Kevin Mills Photo

Pinball museum plan stalled

Downtown bylaw has Mission man thinking of moving his idea to Abbotsford

Seven Graylands thinks Mission is losing out on a fun concept for the downtown area.

The local resident and pinball fan has an idea – to create a retro pinball museum/arcade.

His idea is to have a large collection of pinball machines from the 1960s to now, that people can play for a flat fee. No more searching for quarters to put in the machines.

There would also be displays showing the history of the machines and how they work.

“I want to make it educational, more than just your basic arcade.”

However, Graylands said the district’s new bylaw prohibits arcades in the downtown core.

The bylaw prevents certain types of businesses from opening downtown. Those businesses include tattoo parlours, flea markets, vehicle rentals, tobacconists, marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, cheque-cashing companies and arcades.

What’s surprising to Graylands is that he had already been looking at a location and dealing with the district before the new bylaw was proposed.

He wonders why no one at the district told him his idea might not be allowed.

Graylands said he came up with the idea about 18 months ago. He wants to base it on the Seattle Pinball Museum, which attracts large crowds to check out and play the vintage machines.

“I had started buying pinball machines and after I had eight or nine of them, I thought I should really look at doing this, sharing my collection with other people.”

He has now amassed about 45 machines, all crammed into his house, waiting for a location to be displayed.

But the bylaw is standing in his way.

“Now I’m like, OK, Mission’s out of the question so I’ll do it in Abbotsford.”

Graylands said Abbotsford does not have a bylaw restricting arcades and he is already scouting for a location.

He added if the district decided to put arcades back into the downtown zone, he’d consider staying in Mission, but he doesn’t want to “jump through hoops for it.”

“I’m not going to wait for special permits or legal non-conforming and all that. They’re nonsense and just sort of limits my availability.”

During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Randy Hawes spoke about the situation.

He told the rest of council that he’d hate to see a business go to Abbotsford.

“I think it’s not a bad thing for downtown,” said Hawes.

He suggested council direct staff to look into the bylaw for a possible change.

“If we are in agreement that this is a business that we would welcome downtown, then that is the message we want to give the business owner,” said Hawes.

Any change to the bylaw would have to go to a public hearing. It was suggested that a temporary-use permit could be a better option.

Hawes suggested that Graylands come and talk to staff and, hopefully, come up with a resolution.