Manitoba

Pesky drone annoys people in Oakbank, but RCMP can do little to stop the buzzing

People who live in Oakbank have been complaining on social media about a drone that is getting too up close and personal by flying between houses and circling people in their backyards.

Man says drone came close enough to him in yard he could have swatted it with pool broom

People who live in Oakbank have been complaining on social media about a drone that is getting too up close and personal by flying between houses and circling people in their backyards. 1:10

Curt Danners couldn't believe it when a drone buzzed by him in his backyard while he was cleaning his pool recently. The wind generated by the propellers fanned down on him, and it wasn't the first time.

A week earlier, Danners and his wife were coming home from work when he got out of his car in the garage and spotted the device for the first time.

"It was just hovering in our driveway, looking around," Danners said. "I don't know if he was trying to look in the garage or if he was just flying around.

"I sort of looked at it, and it flew away right away.".

People in Oakbank have been complaining on social media about a persistent drone that has been flying very close to people's homes since the end of September.

The City of Winnipeg is considering a bylaw to regulate the use and the sale of drones.

'Wanted me to swat him'

The second time Danners saw it, the drone was flying in amongst the houses, between his house and his neighbour's.

People in Oakbank have been complaining on social media of this drone which has been flying between houses and even into people's yards. (Facebook)

The third time, Danners was in his backyard cleaning his pool, and it got even closer.

"It was probably 10 feet above me, just over the fence, so I sort of motioned to it not to come near me because I had my pool broom out, and he flew up another five or six feet so he was out of range, sort of flew past," Danners said. 

The drone then flew even closer.

"He was flying around me like he wanted me to swat him, but he was just out of range, so I just basically turned my back on him and he kept flying around and then he just got bored and left," Danners said.

Privacy concerns

The whole situation has Danners and his neighbours worried about privacy.

"Who knows, these things they can fly at night, they can see in windows, they can see in your garage," Danners said. "It's like having someone looking over your fence, right in your yard."

Danners said RCMP told him and other neighbours there is little they can do.

There is nothing in the criminal code regarding drones, but there are rules under Transport Canada.

The agency has a number of dos and don'ts for flying drones, or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV), and the agency can issue fines of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for a corporation.

Dos and don'ts of drones

The don'ts include flying:

  • Closer than nine kilometres from any aerodrome (airport, heliport, helipad or seaplane base, etc.).
  • Higher than 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground.
  • Closer than 150 metres (500 feet) from people, animals, buildings, structures or vehicles.
  • In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals and firework shows.
  • Near moving vehicles, highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
  • Within restricted and controlled airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons and forest fires.
  • Anywhere you may interfere with first responders.

RCMP can investigate a complaint and, according to a spokesperson, will speak to the person violating the Transport Canada rules and advise them what they have done wrong.

Police will then take the contact information for that person and pass it along to Transport Canada, which then can levy fines.

Danners has no idea who is flying the drone in Oakbank or why that person wants to fly it so close to people and homes, but he hopes it will stop.

He wants to see some kind of rules and regulations brought in that will keep drones out of his yard.