Droned out: New rules don't fly with Sydney business owner

Published on March 21, 2017

Mark Voutier, owner of Island Aerial Media in Sydney, flies an unmanned aerial vehicle in this Cape Breton Post file photo. New rules for flying recreation drones in Canada were released on March 16 and although it doesn’t affect Voutier, he has mixed emotions for them.

SYDNEY, N.S. - Mark Voutier, owner of Island Aerial Media in Sydney, has mixed feelings about new restrictions for recreational drone users in Canada.

The federal government announced on March 16 new rules on where and when people can fly their remote-controlled devices, some of which have many recreational drone users upset.
“We all knew there were new rules coming and we knew there was new rules required and needed,” said Voutier.
The new rules, which are now in effect, see recreational users face a fine of up to $3,000 if they fly where you are not allowed or choose not to follow any of the rules.  

[New restrictions on recreational drone use in Canada]

Recreational users are also not allowed to fly drones higher than 90 metres above the ground, closer than 75 metres to buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals or people, closer than nine kilometres of somewhere aircraft take off or land, over forest fires, and where it can interfere with police or first-responders.
Drone users are also not allowed to fly at night, in the clouds, or somewhere it can’t be seen.
Voutier said he thinks the new rules go a bit too far.
“I think they went too far when it comes to the distance from people and buildings,” said Voutier, who is a member of the Canadian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Alliance. “That’s pretty much the thought of a lot of drone users.”
Voutier started his business two years ago. He said since then drones have become more popular in Cape Breton with recreational users.
“They’ve been freaking out,” Voutier said of the feedback from recreational users. 
Although the new rules don’t affect Voutier because he’s a commercial user, it’s not stopping him from worrying as new rules are expected to be in place for commercial users in June.
“They came down pretty hard on recreational users,” said Voutier. “The next crackdown is coming on commercial users, so this is a bit of an indication that it will be a somewhat equally harsh crackdown on commercial users as well.
“We’re scared to death because it could basically ruin the drone industry in general,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how big the drone industry is — it’s huge, not only for real estate, but also in shoreline research and environmental research.”
Voutier said the new rules for commercial users won’t take effect until January 2018.
“It’s another indication that the rules are going to be harsh because they are giving us time to adjust to them,” he said.
Voutier doesn’t think the new rules for recreational users will change people’s minds about purchasing the devices.
“Most people that fly drones carelessly now have already known not to fly over roads, or over people, or in controlled airspace, they were always the guidelines anyway,” said Voutier. “I see videos on Facebook every day of rule-breaking going on.”
Voutier believes enforcement of the rules is the biggest thing. He said enforcing the rules is not as hard as people think.
“I see videos online, literally four or five videos pop up in the Cape Breton area every week, and I can see illegal stuff in the majority of them,” said Voutier. “Most people are attaching their name to it on their own Facebook site, and Transport Canada watches this stuff, and people report this.”
[New drone rules too restrictive, says Northern Nova Scotia user ]

In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, all of Dominion, Glace Bay, Sydney and Sydney River, as well as parts of Westmount and Coxheath, are part of the no-fly zone for drones.
“It’s a no-fly zone because of the nine-kilometre radius around the Sydney airport and the radius around the helipad at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital,” said Voutier.
Anyone wanting to report someone for flying drones illegally is asked to call 911. Voutier said you can also report a drone incident by visiting www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/drone-safety.html.

Drone Rules

New rules for flying recreation drones in Canada. Do not fly drones:
• Higher than 90 metres above the ground
• Closer than 75 metres from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds, etc.
• Closer than nine kilometres from the centre of any airport, heliport, seaplane based or anywhere that aircraft take off and land
• Within controlled or restricted airspace
• Within nine kilometres 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 metres of your drone
• If your name, address, and telephone number are not clearly marked on your drone
Source: Transport Canada