New drone regulations are enforcing tighter restrictions and stiffer penalties around where and when users can take their toys out for flight in the Lower Mainland.
Between the airports, helipads, and buildings there doesn’t seem to be many places left for recreational users to actually use their drones.
Last week, Transport Canada announced new regulations intended to address safety concerns when it comes to drone use in the country.
New rules include several ‘no fly zones’ including within nine kilometres of an airport, heliport or seaplane base, and within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, animals and people or crowds.
Drones can’t exceed heights greater than 90 metres, and must stay within 500 metres of the person operating the drone.
Restrictions are also targeting when someone can and can’t fly their drone, including at night or “in clouds,” and if it interferes with police or first responders.
Every drone now has to be labelled with a name, address, and telephone number, as well.
Disobey the new guide lines and get slapped with hefty fines of up to $3,000, the federal government said in a press release.
The new regulations have drone enthusiasts sharing their frustration on Twitter, targeting the government’s drone safety campaign #nodronezone.
Effectively made drone racing competitions on terrain for sport as illegal social meet-ups. #NoDroneZone @Transport_gc @MarcGarneau #FAIL
— BRome (@BRomeFPV) March 16, 2017
Drones an inconvenience for firefighters
Minister of forests lands and natural resource operations Steve Thompson said when it comes to safety near wildfires, he supports the new rules.
“The new regulations bring clarity to the operation of this increasingly popular technology,” he said in an emailed response.
“Over the past four years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of drones flying near wildfires putting the safety of pilots, firefighters and the public at considerable risk.”
In the summer of 2015, a drone user flew too close to a fire in Testalinden Creek, forcing air crews to ground for several hours.
B.C. Conservation Services has also had issues in the past with drones flying too close to wildlife.
While new regulations state drones must be at least 9 km away from forest fires, the province already has its own regulations where anyone found interfering with a wildfire can face penalties up to $100,000 and one year in jail.
Where’s left to fly
On social media, drone footage that goes viral is often taken in the backcountry or in the outskirts of the Lower Mainland.
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Regulations are not directed at those who use drones for commercial, academic or research purposes, as commercial users already “operate their drones in a safe manner,” Transport Canada said.
Licensing is available online costing anywhere from $200 to more than $500.