We’ve been noticing a lot of questions about people looking to fly their drones in various Provincial Parks across Canada, and there seems to be a little confusion as to whether or not it’s allowed. After reading through various Provincial Parks Acts, we were surprised at the differing laws from across the country. It certainly isn’t as clear as we would have expected, and understand where the confusion comes from.
For flying drones in Canada’s National Parks, there is only one document you need to read, the National Parks Act. However, for Provincial Parks, you have to look in to each Province’s Parks Act for a set of regulations for that particular province. Most of these regulations were written to govern traditional aircraft, and may or may not include model aircraft and/or drones as each document will have its own interpretation of what defines an “aircraft”. That being said, in the eyes of Transport Canada, your drone is regulated by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, and is considered an aircraft.
As always, the end user is fully responsible for proper research and use of their drone. We are not lawyers, and the information provided here is simply a resource to help you find information on proper use.
(a) “aircraft” means a device that is designed to carry one or more persons or objects through the air in powered or powerless flight;
A person shall not take off or land an aircraft in a park or recreation area except
(a) where allowed to do so by a permission of the Minister and in accordance with any conditions set out in the permission,
(b) on a body of water that is designated, and in accordance with any conditions established, by order of the Minister for float plane access,
(c) in the case of a hang-glider, parasail or other non-powered aircraft, in a specific location that is designated, and in accordance with any conditions established, by order of the Minister for that purpose, or
(d) in another prescribed location or situation.
A conservation officer may seize any motor vehicle, off-highway vehicle, aircraft, boat, trailer or any equipment, appliance or other article or object that is being used in a park or recreation area in contravention of this Act or the regulations, or in contravention of any other Act or the regulations made under that Act, whether it is found in the possession of the person alleged to have committed the contravention or not.
British Columbia’s Park, Conservancy and Recerational Area Regulations
27(1) Subject to the Act and this section, a person may use an aircraft to arrive at or depart from a park, conservancy or recreation area.
(2) A person must not use an aircraft to arrive at or depart from parks or parts of parks that are set out in Column 1 of Schedule A, except as may be provided for in the same row in Column 2 of that schedule.
[en. B.C. Reg. 242/2004, s. 1; am. B.C. Reg. 215/2006, Sch. s. 8.]
Ontario Provincial parks and Conservation Reserves Act
23 (1) No person shall take a motor vehicle, all terrain vehicle, bus, boat or aircraft into a provincial park or possess or operate any of them in a provincial park except under the authority of a valid provincial park permit. O. Reg. 347/07, s. 23 (1).
(1) No person shall land an aircraft in a provincial park. O. Reg. 347/07, s. 33 (1).
(2) Despite subsection (1), a person with a valid aircraft landing authorization issued by the superintendent may land an aircraft,
(a) in a provincial park named in Column 2 of Schedule 2 in an area named in Column 3 of that Schedule if the conditions set out in that Column are met; and
(b) in a wilderness class park in accordance with Ontario Regulation 346/07 (Mechanized Travel in Wilderness Class Parks) made under the Act.O. Reg. 347/07, s. 33 (2).
(3) Revoked: O. Reg. 22/11, s. 13.
Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Parks Regulation
Use of aircraft
(1) A person shall not land an aircraft in or take off in an aircraft from a provincial park unless he or she had first obtained a permit to do so from the minister.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply where the health or safety of a person requires that an aircraft land in or take off from a provincial park without a permit to do so first having been obtained from the minister.
While the example of Alberta’s Parks Act is fairly clear, some are a little more ambiguous. British Columbia allows aircraft (with exceptions) in many parks. Whereas Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec does not seem to have any rules governing aircraft use at all. It all depends on what province you’re in.
These regulations will apply for both recreational drone pilots and holders of a valid Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
We would love to hear of your experiences either flying in parks or in dealings with Parks staff regarding their use. Please email your stories or post comments below!
Spring has sprung here in Alberta, and with it comes the lush green and colourful scenery which we all miss during the long winter months. It also means that the real estate rush is in top gear as commercial and residential realtors and property owners look to show their listings in the best possible way.
In recent years, UAV technology has greatly improved, and prices have dropped in a big way. This has helped pave the way for a cost effective solution to capture views of properties in ways not possible before. Our aerial photos and videos have helped agents and private owners alike attract potential buyers, drive inquiries and help properties stand out from the rest of the market. There’s no better way to showcase a property in context with its surroundings than from the unique aerial viewpoint.
We can work with properties both inner city and rural, and will work with you to ensure we capture the angles which best show off your property. We’re also happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the flight or our operations.
Our team is a fully compliant UAV operator, holds a standing Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) with Transport Canada, and carries full UAV specific liability insurance as required by Transport Canada. Prior to all UAV flights, our team conducts an extensive safety review of the area to ensure we’re able to meet all of the requirements set out by our SFOC. You can rest assured that we operate with the highest level of safety in mind, and won’t conduct a flight if we deem it is unsafe to do so.
Why Peak Aerials?
Our team has an extensive background in both aviation and aerial photography. We’ve been operating for over 10 years using traditional aircraft such as airplanes and helicopters to fly aerial photo missions across the country, and we have the expertise to get the job done. Our UAV team is led by Dan Barnes, an active commercial helicopter pilot with over 12 years of aviation experience, and a professional photographer with an extensive background in UAV operations and regulations. With Peak Aerials, you can trust that your project will be completed on time, on budget, and above all else safely and within the regulations.
Where do we operate?
Currently our drone services are available in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Our traditional aerial photography services (using airplanes and helicopters) are available across Canada from coast to coast.
How much does it cost?
Our standard UAV real estate package for both residential and commercial sites start as low as $375 for photos only, or $450 for photos and video. Check out our UAV Services page for up to date pricing. Depending on the location or complexity of the photo shoot, additional costs may apply. Contact us today and we would be happy to send you a free estimate.
How long does it take?
Most jobs can be completed in as little as an hour or two, and you can book a specific date and time in advance. If you’re more flexible, we can wait for the best weather and light to capture your project under the best possible conditions. Once we have flown your site, you can expect to have the digital photos or video delivered within 24-48 hours.
How do I book a flight?
You can get in touch with us at 403-919-0220, or by emailing email@example.com. We will do our best to respond as soon as possible!
Due to the heavy amount of smoke originating from wildfires burning in British Columbia, we’ve been notifying out clients to let them know of possible delays for any aerial photography flights in and around Central and Southern British Columbia as well as Alberta. While we are still able to fly in smoky conditions, it does create a rather unpleasing warm colour cast across photos, and makes some angles very difficult (shooting into the sun through the smoke creates a soft box effect).
Currently we have advised clients to hold off flights in Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Banff, Invermere, Calgary, and Edmonton until conditions improve. Based on wind conditions some days have been better than others, and in some cases we’ve managed to get off the ground in completely clear conditions, but it’s all up to mother nature.
If you are currently planning aerial photography for your project and are located in British Columbia or Alberta, please get in touch with us as early as possible before your deadline. We will work with you to plan a flight when the smoke conditions are either clear or as light as possible.
To view the latest forecast models for smoke visit FireSmoke.ca.
Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport responsible for Transport Canada, has announced new rules for recreational drone users in Canada. Up until now, drone users faced a number of guidelines from Transport on the do’s and don’ts of drone flying, with no specific penalties for breaking them. The new rules, which are effective immediately, mean recreational drone users will face a fine of up to $3000 (or $15,000 for a corporation) if flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams:
Higher than 90 meters
Within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals or people.
More than 500 metres away from the user.
At night, in clouds or somewhere you can’t see it.
Within 9 kilometres of somewhere aircraft take off or land, or a forest fire.
Without your name, address and phone number marked on the drone itself.
Over forest fires, emergency response scenes or controlled airspace.
Transport Canada has effectively created #NoDroneZone’s around all of Canada’s cities for anyone other than commercial operators, who still have to follow strict rules allowed by their SFOC’s. Reaction on social media has been swift with users calling out Transport Canada for creating over reaching rules in the name of safety.
It remains to be seen how strict enforcement is of these rules, but with Transport telling people to call 911 to report illegal drone use, it could get interesting.
Late last year we took to the skies over Vancouver with Sky Helicopters for an aerial tour over the North Shore mountains and the beautiful downtown harbour. Our team was greeted by our friendly pilot Alec who kindly showed us around the clean and modern Sky hangar which is not only the nightly home for their helicopters, but also an event centre for anything from weddings to film premieres.
Sky Helicopters offers customized tours including mountain top landings, wine tours, and more. Their fleet of Robinson R44’s and Bell 206’s offer a perfect and unforgettable flying and photo experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Here are a some photos from our afternoon/evening tour which took us North through Golden Ears Provincial Park, over Stanley Park and Vancouver’s downtown harbours.
Last week during a photo flight over the city of Edmonton we had the opportunity to get a great look at the new Rogers Place arena under construction on the north side of the downtown core. The $480 million dollar arena is slated to be ready for the opening of the 2016-17 NHL season, and once complete it will replace Rexall Place as the home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
The surrounding area, named the EAD or Edmonton Arena District, is slated to become a major construction area over the coming years with proposals for up to 7 high-rise towers, a casino, hotel and accompanying entertainment district. We’re looking forward to seeing the changes the development brings over the coming years from our unique aerial perspective.
These photos show the first year of the arena’s development with the first 800,000 pound roof truss just put in place a day before our flight.
Rexall Place Arena, the current home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers will be replaced in 2016-17 by the new Rogers Place Arena.
For more information on our aerial photography services please visit our website or follow us on social media:
Congratulations to CBC Radio on the success of this year’s annual Calgary Food Bank Drive. With over $1M raised, many cupboards will be filled … not only for the holidays, but throughout the year. With the economic downturn in Alberta, the Calgary Food Bank plays an important role in assisting many of our friends and neighbours who are having difficulty putting a meal on the table.
A huge high five to “JULIE” who’s winning bid of $3200 on a deluxe helicopter tour of YYC for three will go directly to the Food Bank. It is folks like Julie that make Calgary a great place to live, even through tough times.
Julie, along with two of her guests will enjoy a 1-hour helicopter tour of Calgary and surrounding areas, a behind-the-scenes tour of the hanger and their “ride” as well as a limited edition framed print of an aerial photo of downtown Calgary at dusk, entitled “Jewel on the Bow I”.
The amazing team at Mountain View Helicopters generously donated an hour of helicopter time. As frequent clients of MVH for our own aerial photography work, we would like to thank them for their dedication and professionalism in keeping us safe in the skies above Southern Alberta.
Earlier this week DJI introduced their next generation of the incredibly popular Phantom series drones. According to a press release, DJI’s latest quad is the first camera-toting drone to make use of “highly advanced computer vision and sensing technology,” meaning even beginners will feel like seasoned vets while flying. Moreover, with its included ‘follow me’ mode, obstacle avoidance, and tap-to-fly features, the Phantom 4 is undoubtedly the smartest quadcopter DJI has ever released.
While not specifically designed for professional use, the new Phantom 4 does offer some major benefits over some of the larger UAV designs, most notably with its increased flight times which can run up to an estimated 28 minutes. This means more time in the air and less time on the ground fiddling with all those extra batteries you always need to have on hand.
The camera sensor used in the new Phantom is basically the same as in the Phantom 3 Professional, but the lens is completely different. It has 8 elements and improves the image distortion by 36%. They have also reduced the chromatic aberration by 57% which will help in those high contrast shots. On top of that, the closest focus distance is now 3 feet from the drone, so even close up shots will still be sharp and in focus. We’re waiting to see how much improvement they’ve accomplished in still photographs, as in our experience that was one of the biggest drawbacks of the Phantom 3, with many users complaining of blurry images (especially towards the center of the image).
There are 5 cameras pointed outward from the Phantom 4, the 4K/12-megapixel on-board camera, 2 cameras on the front, and 2 cameras on the bottom. Using these cameras, the Phantom 4 is able to create a 3D model of the world and use that data to navigate by itself, sensing obstacles up to 49 feet away. Flying the Phantom 4 is as easy as double tapping your screen. The Obstacle Sensing System keeps the drone safe, and the smart return-to-home system allows you to call your drone back to your takeoff point when you’re done shooting (while also avoiding obstacles on the way back).
Changes to the Phantom 4
Fly with Tap – Double tap the screen to fly to your next point. An obstacle sensing system keeps the Phantom safe as it goes, and with the help of the new visual avoidance system, the Return to Home feature returns the aircraft to you more safely.
Extended Flight Time – Larger more powerful motors, a highly integrated and more streamlined design combined with a larger battery capacity gives the new Phantom 25% more effective flying times.
Visual Tracking – ActiveTrack lets you track a subject automatically, no band or beacon required, while obstacle avoidance keeps you phantom clear of hazards.
Sport Mode – A brand new Sport mode brings responsive controls and the thrill of speed everywhere. An integrated gimbal and new battery positioned to move the center of gravity close to the aircraft’s core combined with raised motors that increase torque reaction, and a reliable flight control system which precisely controls the aircraft movement to make flight at higher speeds safer.
Advanced Aerodynamics and Stability – Sleek, streamlined aerodynamics help the Phantom 4 slip more smoothly through the air. The battery system, camera gimbal and propulsion system have also been adjusted to improve the crafts center of gravity for increase stability and flight control. By moving the camera forward it will also decrease the amount of “blades in the shot” which was common in earlier models.
Sense and Avoid – Front obstacle sensors combine with advanced computer vision and processing to give the Phantom active obstacle avoidance that allows it to react and avoid obstacles in its path.
Like the older Phantom models, the Phantom 4 still relies on core sensor information from the IMU (inertial measurement unit), however it now has dual IMU’s and compass systems for better redundancy and improved accuracy. This means that even if one system fails, there will be a backup to get you back on the ground safely. The flight control algorithm has also been redesigned to improve power management and make better use of all the data coming in through the on-board sensors.
While we don’t expect the Phantom 4 to be a game-changer, it’s exciting to see what new technology improvements can be brought to the industry. The light-weight, easy to deploy design of the Phantom series along with the considerable cost savings versus the Inspire 1 Pro and larger S900/S1000 series UAV’s, we expect the Phantom 4 will become a valuable tool for jobs which don’t require high quality still images. Most of all though, the Phantom series has always been fun to fly, and we expect the Phantom 4 will be no different!
Shipments of the Phantom 4 should begin around April 1st, with the retail price here in Canada to be $1889.
Phantom 4 specs:
Weight (Including Battery): 1380 grams Max Ascent Speed: 6 m/s (Sport mode) Max Descent Speed: 4 m/s (Sport mode) Max Speed: 20 m/s (Sport mode) Max Altitude Above Sea Level: 19685 feet (Software altitude limit: 400 feet above takeoff point) Max Flight Time: Approximately 28 minutes Battery: PH4 – 5350 mAh – 15.2V Operating Temperature Range: 32 degrees to 104 degrees F (0 to 40 degrees C) Satellite Systems: GPS / GLONASS Controllable range: Pitch -90 degrees to +30 degrees Obstacle Sensory Range: 2 – 49 feet (0.7m to 15m) Camera Sensor: 1 / 2.3″ – 12 Megapixels Lens: FOV 94 degrees at f2.8 ISO Range: 100-3200 (video) and 100-1600 (photo) Electronic Shutter Speed: 8s to 1/8000s Max Image Size: 4000×3000 Still Photography Modes: Single shot, burst shooting 3/5/7 frames, auto bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias, Timelapse HDR Video Recording Modes: UHD: 4096×2160 (4K) 24 / 25p 3840×2160 (4K) 24 / 25 / 30p 2704×1520 (2.7K) 24 / 25 / 30p – FHD: 1920×1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p Max Video Bitrate: 60 Mbps Max Transmission Distance: FCC Compliant: 3.1 mi (5 km); CE Compliant: 2.2 mi (3.5 km) (Unobstructed, free of interference)
Brookfield Place Calgary is a full-block commercial development located between 1st & 2nd Streets and 6th & 7th Avenues SW in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; consisting of 220,000 square metres. It recently surpassed the Bow Building in height and is now topped out at 247 meters.
The Bow Building – 237 meters
The Bow is a 158,000-square-metre office building for the headquarters of Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy, in downtown Calgary, Alberta. At 237 meters, the building is currently the tallest office tower in the city, and tallest in Canada outside Toronto. Brookfield Place will soon supplant The Bow Building as the tallest skyscraper in Calgary.
Suncor Energy Centre – 215 meters
The Suncor Energy Centre, formerly the Petro-Canada Centre is a 1,945,000 square foot project composed of two granite and reflective glass-clad office towers of 32 floors and 53 floors, situated in the office core of downtown Calgary, Alberta. Standing at 215 meters, it is currently the second highest building in Calgary.
Eighth Avenue Place East Tower – 212 meters
Eighth Avenue Place is a twin office tower built on the former site of Calgary’s historic Penny Lane Mall build by Mateusz Ryzner. The project initially kept the Penny Lane name, however it has since been renamed. With 49 floors and standing at 212 meters, it is currently the third tallest building in downtown Calgary.
Bankers Hall (East and West Towers) – 197 meters
Bankers Hall is a building complex located in downtown Calgary, Alberta, which includes twin 52-storey office towers, designed by the architectural firm Cohos Evamy in postmodern architectural style. The first building, known as Bankers Hall East, is located at 855 2nd Street SW and was completed in 1989. It was followed in 2000 by Bankers Hall West, at 888 3rd Street SW. After its completion, they became the tallest twin buildings in Canada.
Centennial Place I – 182 meters
Centennial Place is a set of 2 skyscrapers constructed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Named in honour of Alberta’s Centennial year, the complex includes an underground 5 level parkade with 793 stalls. The higher of the two towers, Centennial Place I, stands at 182 meters to the top of its spire.
Devon Tower – 177 meters
Devon Tower is a skyscraper located at 400 3rd Avenue SW, it stands at 177 metres or 45 storeys tall. The building was completed in 1988 and was designed by WZMH Architects in the postmodern style.
TransCanada Tower – 177 meters
TransCanada Tower is an office tower located at 450 1st Street SW, it stands at 177 meters or 38 storeys tall and was completed in 2001. It was designed by the architectural firm, Cohos Evamy.
We have received a lot of questions lately about flying a drone in Canadian National Parks such as Banff National Park, Jasper, Yoho, etc. There’s certainly no shortage of conflicting information and footage on Youtube and Vimeo of stunning landscapes taken in popular areas of the Parks, enticing other drone enthusiasts to go out and capture their own spectacular shots.
Aviation in the National Parks of Canada are governed by the National Parks Air Access Regulations section of the National Parks Act. These regulations restrict aircraft from taking off or landing in the parks unless permission has been received from the Parks Superintendant. These regulations are in place to help preserve and protect the parks environment and minimize disturbance to the natural habitat.
“I’m only flying a drone, not an airplane or a helicopter!”. In case you were wondering what is considered the definition of an “aircraft”, this sums it up fairly definitively:
(a) until the day on which paragraph (b) comes into force, any machine capable of deriving support in the atmosphere from reactions of the air, and includes a rocket;
(b) [Repealed before coming into force, 2008, c. 20, s. 3] (aéronef)
So unfortunately yes, in the eyes of the law your drone is considered an aircraft. Which brings us to the aircraft access restriction from the National Parks Air Access Regulations of the National Parks Act.
(1) Subject to section 5, it is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in a park, other than in a park set out in column I of the schedule at a take-off and landing location set out in column II.
(2) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in a park set out in any of items 1 to 9, 11 or 12, column I, of the schedule unless that person is the holder of a permit.
(3) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in the park set out in item 13, column I, of the schedule, other than
(a) for non-commercial recreational purposes if the person is the holder of a permit; or
(b) to land in the case of a diversion or other emergency situation.
(4) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in the park set out in item 14, column I, of the schedule, other than to land in the case of a diversion or other emergency situation.
(5) In the case of a landing referred to in paragraph (3)(b) or subsection (4), the person must
(a) notify the superintendent as soon as feasible after landing of
(i) the fact that they have landed at a take-off and landing location set out in item 13 or 14, column II, of the schedule, as the case may be, and
(ii) the nature of the diversion or other emergency situation; and
(b) obtain the superintendent’s authorization before take-off.
SOR/2004-299, s. 4;
SOR/2013-10, s. 3.
“Ah ha! Well I will just fly into the park from the park boundary!”. This was one of the more creative responses we’ve had to emails on the subject. But again, there is more information in the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual) under RAC 1.14.15 regarding the overflight of National Parks.
1.14.5 – National, Provincial and Municipal Parks, Reserves and Refuges
To preserve the natural environment of parks, reserves and refuges and to minimize the disturbance to the natural habitat, overflights should not be conducted below 2 000 feet AGL.
The landing or takeoff of aircraft in the national parks and national park reserves may take place at prescribed locations.
To assist pilots in observing this, boundaries are depicted on the affected charts. The following is taken from the National Parks Aircraft Access Regulations (98-01-29):
(1) Subject to subsection (2) and Section 5 no person shall take off or land an aircraft in a park except in a park set out in column I of an item of the schedule, at a take-off and landing location set out in column II of that item.
(2) No person shall take off or land an aircraft in a park set out in column I of any of items 1 to 6 of the schedule unless that person holds a permit.
So I guess technically if you had an SFOC (Special Flight Operating Certificate) in place allowing you to fly your drone up to 2000ft, you could takeoff vertically to 2000ft at the park boundary and then fly over the park. I have yet to see how long UAV batteries last flying from the ground up to this altitude and back, but I’m guessing you wouldn’t have a long flight over the park!
The better course of action would be to apply to the Parks Superintendent for a permit allowing you to fly in the park legally, or simply leave your drone at home.