Toronto city council to study new drone rules

Councillors will discuss new rules this week for those flying drones in city parks and other spaces, something enthusiasts say is unnecessary.

Coun. James Pasternak concerned about risks drones pose for the city

Toronto city staff will be asked to come up with potential new rules governing the use of drones in public spaces like parks. (Amiel De Guzman)

Councillors will discuss new rules this week for those flying drones in city parks and other spaces, something enthusiasts say is unnecessary.

Coun. James Pasternak put forward a motion asking staff to study new rules for drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. He wants some guidelines back from staff by September.

"We are not interested in hyper-regulating technology so it's a balancing act," Pasternak told CBC News.

But, the councillor said, council shouldn't just work reactively when issues arise pertaining to drones. He's concerned about both personal injury and the ability for drones to be used to spy on private homes.

"Does it create an added risk to the city? It does."

Jon Corbin, a visual artist who flies a small drone to gather photos and videos (his latest production is a nod to Star Wars, filmed above Evergreen Brick Works), said he's concerned the city will go too far in regulating drones.

"It's not at the point where the skies are crowded," Corbin said.

Drones have changed the game for photographers and hobbyists by allowing them access to aerial shots that previously would have cost thousands of dollars. But despite their soaring popularity, Corbin doesn't see the need to crack down on them.

"It's a bit of a fad … we need to stop fearing the worst," he said.

Corbin said he supports safety regulations for drones, but hopes the city doesn't ban them from public spaces.