You may want to think twice about buying a drone as a gift.
Calgary Police are out with a reminder about the safe use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles.
CPS held a forum on Saturday, inviting drone operators to learn and ask questions about current rules and regulations.
Sgt. Colin Foster says the devices are great, they just need to be used properly as CPS has seen an influx of drone related calls.
“The biggest problem we have at the moment is that legislation is trying to catch up to the industry.”
Current legislation is fairly strict on when and how the devices can be used. Transport Canada has a set of rules, and many jurisdictions have separate rules on top of those. In Calgary there’s two bylaws regarding the devices: drones cannot be flown in a park and you cannot fly one above a street according to Foster. Users are able to apply for permits which would allow for a less restricted flight.
“You can actually be charged under the criminal code with dangerous operation of a vehicle. Believe it or not, these are vehicles under the criminal code so you can actually commit criminal code offences. If you have a beer and think hey I’m going to go fly my UAV – guess what? It’s impaired operation of a vehicle. So you can get charged with that.”
Foster says they have yet to charge someone on that matter.
Police say Transport Canada is working on a more clear legislation surrounding drones.
Chris Jones attended Saturday’s event and says it’s unfortunate that drones can’t really be used within the city but understands the reasoning.
“If you go in on a decent drone, you’re going to spend a couple grand to get everything you need to do it So, you know, how much do you want to spend that money if you have so many restrictions where you can’t really do it. You know, the idea of following a dirt bike down a trail I think is kind of cool but doesn’t seem like there’s many places where I’m going to be able to do that.”
However, Jones does note that he’s hopeful that new legislation will be less restrictive.
Police stressed at Saturday’s meeting that they want people to have drones but they also want to ensure they are used properly and safely.
Police have recently started using the devices at crime scenes and accident scenes to provide photos that would otherwise be impossible to get.
Transport Canada’s current do’s and don’ts on UAV’s can be found below or by clicking here.
- Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
- Keep your drone in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
- Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
- Know if you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
- Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.
- closer than nine km (five nm) from any aerodrome (i.e. airport, heliport, helipad or seaplane base, etc.)
- higher than 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground
- closer than 150 metres (500 feet) from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles
- in populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows
- near moving vehicles, highways, bridges, busy streets, or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers
- within restricted and controlled airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, and forest fires
- anywhere you may interfere with first responders