New tools launched to educate Canadians about drones, report misuse

Drone ownership comes with strings attached in Canada.
Drone ownership comes with strings attached in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Locher

Canadians unwrapping a shiny new drone on Christmas morning are being cautioned by the federal government to use it responsibly — or else.

In response to the flood of affordable, hi-tech drones into the market this year, Transport Canada is using the week before Christmas to remind everyone that the machines come with rules attached.

A new public awareness campaign makes it clear, for example, that airports, national parks, the border between the U.S. and Canada, highways, military bases or secure areas, forest fires, bridges and any heavily populated area are all “no drone zones.”

Parliament Hill is also a no-no, for the record.

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“Transport Canada is proud of the work that’s been done over the past year to improve safety for Canadians and support innovation for the drone industry,” said MP Kate Young, who serves as parliamentary secretary to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, in a release.

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“Many Canadians will receive or purchase drones over the holidays this year and we encourage all new operators to learn the rules and help us keep the skies safe.”

Anyone who is unsure of the existing regulations surrounding drones can find out more on the department’s website. Additional regulations will be coming in 2017, the government has said.

Your neighbours can also now report you directly to the department if they feel you’re flying a drone in an unsafe or irresponsible manner.

Anyone spotting a drone being flown in a way that poses an immediate threat to safety, security, or privacy can still call local police, but the new reporting tool allows Canadians to report misuse of drones that isn’t necessarily an emergency.

A drone being flown closer than nine kilometres from an airport would qualify, for example.

“Transport Canada will review your report and take appropriate action when necessary,” the department’s webpage says.

“Please note that the department cannot respond directly to every report it receives.”

WATCH: Edmonton police lay first drone-related charge

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police lay first drone-related charge'
Edmonton police lay first drone-related charge

While many drone operators in Canada need a special permit to operate their machines, some commercial drones qualify for an exemption to that rule.

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Transport Canada is reminding everyone to check whether  they need a permit, depending on their circumstances. You can do that by clicking here.

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