British Columbia

BCIT drone fair: seriously cool machines and the laws that rule them

First-of-its-kind fair in Western Canada expected to draw 500 drone enthusiasts, vendors and professional pilots.

500 drone enthusiasts, vendors and professional pilots expected at first-of-its-kind event in Western Canada

BCIT is expecting hundreds of people to attend its 2016 Drone Fair as the technology continues to skyrocket in popularity. (BCIT Media Production)

There will be a lot of whizzing, buzzing and zipping around BCIT Saturday as the school hosts the first drone fair in Western Canada.

Drone Fair 2016 will feature more than 500 drone enthusiasts, vendors, and professional pilots Saturday at BCIT's Burnaby Campus at 3700 Willingdon Avenue from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. PT.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have launched into recreational and commercial popularity over the last few years, but they've also flown into some legal grey areas with regards to safety and privacy.

Organizers of the fair say 4.3 million drones were sold in 2015 worldwide, while the tag line for the event is: "Celebrating the positive use of drone technology."

The idea is to use the fair to educate people already using or interested in drones about best practices and safety.

Drones have been used to find missing motorbikes, track killer whales, but also have gotten in the way of firefighting and airline flights and are increasingly targeted by thieves.

In December of 2015, the Ministry of Transportation posted a series of videos on its website narrated by minister Marc Garneau about the dos and don'ts of drone use such as:

​Currently in Canada people wanting to fly drones for fun can do so without permission as long as their machine weighs less that 35 kg, while those using drones for work related purposes may need to contact Transport Canada or obtain a special flight operations certificate.

Meanwhile, at the fair, there will be "fly zones" where visitors can fly a drone, a Drone Fair Grand Prix where B.C.'s best pilots will race each other and presentations on how industry leaders are using UAVs in wildlife research, film, and education.

Chinese drone company DJI is a sponsor of the event along with Chilliwack's Flying Cameras.


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