Credit to Author: Jennifer Saltman| Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2019 23:29:39 +0000
Metro Vancouver is looking to ban drone operators from launching or landing their aircraft in regional parks without a permit, in an effort to protect wildlife and park users in the face of drones’ growing popularity.
The move would bring the regional district’s drone rules into line with the policies that cover provincial and national parks in B.C.
“It’s being proactive,” said David Leavers, division manager of visitor and operations services for Metro parks.
Leavers said in regional parks the main concern is the impact drones can have on animals, such as birds. Drone use also doesn’t align with regional parks goals, poses a safety risk if they’re not flown responsibly and can ruin park users’ experiences.
Drone use in Canadian airspace is regulated by Transport Canada and Canadian aviation regulations, so Metro doesn’t have a say over what happens in the airspace above parks, but Leavers said that Metro controls the land base, so it can prohibit takeoffs and landings in parks without a permit, which it plans to do as part of a suite of annual bylaw changes.
“I think this is a move that’s already in place in a lot of spaces, and I think it was rather inevitable that this would come up and has a lot to do with liability and safety,” said Eric Saczuk, a geomatics instructor and researcher at the B.C. Institute of Technology, who uses drones for work, research and recreationally.
“On the one hand, it can be seen as a limiting factor, but on the other hand I think it’s a matter of doing your due diligence and asking permission,” Saczuk said.
Slacklining and highlining — walking, standing or balancing along a suspended line — will also be prohibited in regional parks.
Metro considers the two activities “high risk” and although it doesn’t have a formal policy in place, in practice they’re not allowed in regional parks. The prohibition will align the bylaw with recommendations from the regional district’s risk management officer and field practice.
The fine for an unauthorized drone takeoff or landing, and for slacklining or highlining, could be up to $250.
The bylaw changes will be considered at an upcoming Metro board of directors meeting.