Even though spring will soon be here, packing your drone up with your camping gear or picnic supplies for a trip through one of Canada’s national parks is still a no-go.
Parks Canada prohibits the recreational flight of drones in Canada’s national parks. Drone flight within the parks is cited as a potential source of danger for wildlife and visitors, according to the Parks Canada website.
Non-recreational use is permitted in some circumstances; it requires the advanced permission of the Parks Canada Field Unit Superintendent, as well as adherence to the requirements for drone flight set out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Additionally, and depending on your intended use of the drone (commercial purposes or scientific research), the park where you seek to fly may require you to file separate permit application(s).
For example, Banff National Park in Alberta requires written proposals for otherwise restricted drone use to be made in advance. As part of your pre-flight planning, make sure that all additional, non-Transport Canada permissions which may be required for the intended flight are sought and obtained in advance.
Canada’s national parks are so vast that it may be tempting to quickly capture a video or an image when no other visitors are (apparently) nearby. Be aware that Canada has a “drone incident report program” in place, where members of the public are encouraged to report unsafe drone flights. Additionally, some parks, like Banff National Park, ask park visitors to report observed drone incidents to park wardens. In 2017, some 87 reports of drone activity were received by Banff National Park wardens, according to the CBC. Fines for flying in Canada’s national parks without permission ranges up to $15,000, and in some cases, up to $25,000. While fines may be quite hefty depending on the circumstances, a Calgary man was fined $500 in January 2018 for flying his drone in Banff National Park.