You don’t need to pick up your local Best Buy flyer to realize that everyone and their grandmother either has a drone or wants a drone these days. They’re the cool new toy for everyone from Casey Neistat to Sara Dietschy. But if you plan on flying drones in Canada, you’ll need to pay attention to some new rules.

Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced during a press conference in Toronto today that a series of new restrictions are now in place to protect the general public. These rules apply to recreational drones that weigh between 250 grams and 35 kilograms, a weight range that does not require special permission from Transport Canada to fly.

“I take very seriously the increased risk to aviation safety and to people on the ground caused by drones,” wrote the Transport Minister in a statement to MobileSyrup. “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.”

We wrote a guide to drone safety and etiquette last summer and, for the most part, these regulations mirror the general guidelines that Transport Canada already issued previously. Basically, they’re saying that you should not fly your drone:

  • higher than 90 m above the ground
  • closer than 75 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds, etc.
  • closer than nine km from the centre of an aerodrome (any airport, heliport, seaplane base or anywhere that aircraft take-off and land)
  • within controlled or restricted airspace
  • within nine km 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 m of your drone
  • if your name, address, and telephone number are not clearly marked on your drone.

These rules are not only meant to protect the safety of people on the ground, but also to reduce the number of “near misses” that recreational drones have had with commercial aircraft. That figure reportedly doubled in the last two years. If you’re caught violating any of the new regulations, you could face a fine of up to $3,000.

Is that better or worse than having your drone shot down by a Patriot missile? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Check out the Transport Canada website for more detailed information about what you can and cannot do when flying drones for fun.

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