Transport Canada introduces new safety measures to protect from reckless drone usage

Transport Canada has announced new flying restrictions for recreational drone users that limit when and where it's legal to fly.

The government will require all recreational drone operators to mark their drone with their contact information and forbid their use at night.

Specifically, drones can not fly higher than 90 metres; fly within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles or people, and have to stay nine kilometres away from anywhere aircraft land or take off.

Any individual violating the new rules could be subject to a fine of up to $3,000, and up to $15,000 for corporations.

The new rules, announced Thursday, March 16, do not affect operators of drones for commercial, academic or research purposes.

Those who fly with the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada in approved zones are also exempt from the new rules.

Garneau says he is imposing the new measures under the Aeronautical Act, which allows him to take action "when there is a significant risk to aviation".

The reasoning, he said, is an increase in the number of cases involving drones that have been reported to his department or law enforcement agencies.

Until official regulations are put forward in June, Garneau said it's necessary to implement stricter rules on current operators. That's up from 85 incidents in 2015, and 41 incidents in 2014.

Drones will continue to be prohibited from flying higher than 90 metres above the ground without first obtaining a special permit from Transport Canada.

Garneau said the public will be able to provide feedback on the draft regulations once they're formulated.

Garneau says the consequences could be disastrous if one of these encounters results in a collision between a drone and an aircraft. As the national organization representing over 500 members from the professional unmanned aerial systems community, we applauds the Minister's initiative to take steps to implement clear and enforceable regulations to deter the hazardous operation of recreational drones.

"That's the kind of nightmare scenario that keeps me up at night", said Canadian Transport Minister (and former astronaut) Marc Garneau at a news conference.

Garneau said the new rules should go a long way to ensuring safe drone use and won't harm growth in the drone industry.

  • Elsie Buchanan