Model-aircraft enthusiasts and the aviation industry are pleased with the federal government's new rules restricting drones.
Milton Reimer, secretary of the Winnipeg Radio Control Club, said the new measures announced last week by federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau to prevent reckless drone will ground people who abuse the devices.
"If I'm an idiot flying a drone out near Lyncrest (Airport, just inside the Perimeter Highway in Transcona) then I could damage a plane as easily there as I could at Winnipeg's airport," Reimer said Monday.
"The only difference is the plane would just be smaller... it's the idiots who speed on roads that forced the city to clamp down with speed zones. It is no different here."
Transport Canada enacted the new measures because the number of incidents in the sky involving recreational drones has tripled since 2014, with almost 100 incidents of unsafe practices in 2015 alone.
The new measures, which took effect immediately on Thursday, mean drones weighing between 250 grams and 35 kilograms cannot fly higher than 90 metres or within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles or people, and cannot be launched at night. The rules also restrict their use around forest fires, emergency operations, crowds and gatherings.
But by far the toughest restriction is that drones cannot be flown within nine kilometres from "the centre of any airport, heliport, aerodrome or water aerodrome where aircraft take off and land."
Transport Canada spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier confirmed that means everything from the helipad at the Health Sciences Centre, a smaller airport such as Lyncrest, to a grass strip at a farmer's field with a few aircraft.
"It's anyplace where there are airplanes in and out of," she said.
Operators of drones for commercial, academic and research purposes are not affected, nor are members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC), who fly their aircraft at MAAC-sanctioned fields or events.
Recreational operators who violate the new restrictions are subject to fines up to $3,000.
But even Reimer, whose club is part of MAAC, doesn't know if his club's flying field, located next to the South End Sewage Treatment Plant, is now too close to the Lyncrest Airport to fly.
"I don't know — it is very new to all of us," he said.
"We try to be good neighbours and to fly legally."
Winnipeg Airports Authority spokesman Tyler MacAfee said the nine km rule roughly covers the period when an aircraft is landing or taking off at the airport.
"It's the critical time when the pilot has to be focused on flying the aircraft and not looking around for drones," MacAfee said. "What people don't understand or think about is how close the airport is to them. You can be in Assiniboine Park and people may think they're not close to the airport, but they are in the nine-kilometre radius and it is in the flight path of a lot of planes.
"Drones are fun and we want people to enjoy them, but they come with responsibility," he said.
St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham, who has been working to have the city put in place a bylaw restricting the use of drones, is pleased with the federal regulations.
"Now one of the key challenges is going to be education around these new regulations and guidelines," Gillingham said. "I'd like to see education right at the vendor. Education will be the key to this."
Laurie Gobeil, manager of Eliminator-RC hobby supply, blames a few bad apples flying drones too high and too close to aircraft for the federal government having to step in with regulations.
"Common sense is not as common as it used to be," Gobeil said. "This will encourage more people to join clubs with flying fields."