New Drone Laws in Canada

So recently there have been a number of changes in the legal use of drones in Canada.  Transport Canada under Marc Garneau issued an interim order that governs where, when, and how drones can be used, as well as rules about licensing and fines if you break the rules.  It should be kept in mind that these rules only pertain to drones that weigh over 35 kg, which rules out those recreational smaller drones, but unfortunately includes pretty much every photography/video drone on the market such as the DJI Mavic, DJI Phantom, and GoPro Karma which are leading the industry presently.  Here are a few that might interest you as taken from the Transport Canada website:

Do not fly your drone:

  • higher than 90 m above the ground
  • closer than 75 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds
  • closer than nine km from the centre of an aerodrome (any airport, heliport, seaplane base or anywhere that aircraft take-off and land)
  • within controlled or restricted airspace
  • within nine km of a forest fire
  • where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • at night or in clouds
  • if you can’t keep it in sight at all times
  • if you are not within 500 m of your drone
  • if your name, address, and telephone number are not clearly marked on your drone.

Apparently failure to comply with the rules can leave you facing some pretty hefty fines if you break the rules including up to $3,000 in fines.  However, that may not be the worst of it, if you endanger others, fly where you're not allowed, or put an aircraft at risk the fines can grow to up to $25,000 and/or even jail time.

Let me be clear, I fully support legislation regulating something that can be as potentially hazardous to public and personal safety as a drone.  However, personally, I think that if this starts becoming strictly enforced that it will make the whole field of drone photography and video very unappealing.  I can't imagine many applications for drones in wedding or military contexts that would satisfy the rules regarding proximity to cars, people, and buildings.  Even if you were to be shooting landscape photography you can't legally go past 90m up, which limits the amount of wide shots you're able to get.

Certainly there will be refinements to the legislation, but presently it's really making me question whether or not the Mavic Pro is a worthwhile investment for my business.  Let me know what you guys think in the comments!

-Wes.

Ps. Here's a video that discusses the subject which features some fantastic sweeping drone footage which hopefully was lower than 90m, lol.