Citing safety concerns, government cracks down on drone use


Recreational drone use is on the rise in Canada, as the technology is increasingly becoming more affordable to produce, making drones more buyer-friendly to consumers. However, it’s this same availability that’s largely led to them being used in an irresponsible manner. As a result, the government is cracking down, seeing to it that fewer incidents happen so public safety continues to be prioritized.

On March 16 at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport, Canada’s Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced new measures that legislate how drones can be used, going into effect immediately. Among the key features of the ruling, unmanned aerial vehicles can fly no higher than 90 meters, are only to be used in daylight hours and can’t come within 75 meters of public buildings, automobiles or pedestrians.

Additionally, users are strictly forbidden from flying their UAV devices within 9 kilometers of airports, Garneau further stated. This includes heliports – where helicopters take off from – aerodromes as well as water aerodromes.

Safety incidents more than tripled since 2014
The reason for the crackdown stems from the number of developments in which recreational drone use has resulted in safety concerns. Since 2014, in fact, they’ve more than tripled, turning flying projectiles that are controllable into unwieldy falling debris that – depending on where it lands – can result in accident or injury. Three years ago, there were 41 safety incidents, 85 the year after that and 148 in 2016, CBC News reported.

Eric Stubbs, chief superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, noted that drones can be great to use, but not if they’re being handled in a reckless way, which too often has proven to be the case.

“The RCMP encourages recreational drone users to be responsible when operating in public places,” Stubbs warned. “We encourage all drone operators to think about the safety of those around them, and follow the new regulations at all times.”

Fines up to $3,000
With the strictures already in effect, those who disobey them may be in for a rude awakening when they’re fined. Though the penalty is ultimately at the discretion of the officer, violators can be hit with a $3,000 ticket, according to the Government of Canada.

Where these rules will be strictly enforced is in and around airports, Garneau hastened to mention.

“I take very seriously the increased risk to aviation safety and to people on the ground caused by drones,” Garneau emphasized. “That is why I am proceeding with this measure which takes effect immediately – to enhance the safety of aviation and the public while we work to bring into force permanent regulations.”

Business owners somewhat less interested in latest tech
While drone use and other state-of-the-art technology is being used heavily by the consumer public, the same can’t be said among business owners, according to a recent poll. In fact, just 9 percent of information technology executives say they latch on to new tech products shortly after they come to market, recruitment firm Robert Half revealed from a new survey it conducted. Only 10 percent of creative executives described themselves as “early adopters” of groundbreaking technologies.

Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of Robert Half Technology, chalked up business owners’ reluctance to what might best be described as “analysis paralysis.”

“Companies are often drawn to new technology to help find efficiencies and improve business processes,” Bottineau explained. “But deciding which tools to invest in can be overwhelming given the wide variety of ever-evolving options.”

Bottineau further stated that the best way to introduce new technologies into day-to-day business operations is by “hiring professionals who can help select and implement new systems,” as people are the true brains behind business’ productivity.