Transport Canada considers 'no drone' signs for Victoria harbour

Transport Canada is looking at ways to remind people that Victoria's harbour is also a busy airport for float planes and helicopters following concerns about drones.

Anecdotal reports of drones have been called into the Victoria Harbour Master's office, federal agency says

A float plane prepares for takeoff in Victoria's harbour. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Transport Canada is looking at ways to remind drone operators that Victoria's harbour is also a busy airport for float planes and helicopters. 

Anecdotal reports of drones flying in the area have been called into the Victoria Harbour Master's office and Nav Canada, the federal agency said. Air operators that use the harbour have also raised the issue as a safety concern.

"It's just an additional concern from a pilot point-of-view in terms of one more obstacle that they potentially need to keep an eye out for," said Aaron McCrorie, director general for the aviation safety regulatory framework at Transport Canada.

The agency is considering installing signs around Victoria Harbour to inform recreational drone users that it is restricted airspace and drones pose risks to helicopters and float planes.

"Because these are people who have never flown before and are not familiar with aviation safety requirements, they don't know what it means to operate safely, so we put a lot of time and effort into raising awareness, into educating people," McCrorie said.

Similar signs at YVR

The signs would be similar to "No Drone Zone" signs installed at the airport in Vancouver.

In December, Vancouver International Airport launched a drone safety program aimed at the growing number of recreational drone users. The campaign included signage in key spots around the airport, advertising and community outreach at events.

Transport Canada said it is working with float plane and helicopter operators to identify potential locations for the drone warning signs at Victoria's harbour.

The signs could be helpful, especially for those why may be visiting Victoria, said Graham Palmer, chief flying instructor at the Victoria Flying Club. 

"People come on vacation and they want to get some pictures of their trip to Victoria, Palmer said. "If they start operating something like that in that area, it could have catastrophic consequences."

Under Transport Canada regulations drones can't be used within nine kilometres of airports or aerodromes — unless it is a commercial operator who has a special flight operating certificate to work in the area.


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