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Councillor wants bylaw to regulate drones

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/9/2016 (1212 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Airline pilots flying into the city’s airport have reported seeing unmanned drones near their planes, and now a city councillor wants the city to regulate their use and sale.

Coun. Scott Gillingham said he’s bringing a motion to today’s council meeting directing the administration to prepare a report on the feasibility of council controlling the use of drones with a bylaw.

"The goal is to help educate the public, ensure public safety and to ensure public privacy," Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston) said Tuesday.

"Transport Canada has regulations that any UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) 35 kilograms or more has to have a special flight certificate, while anything weighing less has to be operated safely. But when you have something 50 pounds in the air and it has contact with an aircraft, that could be a huge safety issue."

The motion will not be debated at council but will be automatically referred to the civic infrastructure renewal and public works committee.

Gillingham said that committee could look at the proposal as early as its Tuesday meeting.

Tyler MacAfee, the Winnipeg Airports Authority’s spokesman, said the public needs to know the airspace within nine kilometres around an airport "is considered a no-fly zone.

"People might not be aware of it... the operators of drones should understand while they are fun, they also have a responsibility. We want to make sure people have fun, but do it in a way that is responsible."

MacAfee said Transport Canada has other regulations for drones beyond the airport no-fly zone, including not flying one higher than 90 metres off the ground.

"Lots of drone operators are OK, but there are a few who don’t understand the responsibility about it," he said.

"These aren’t just a toy — they are an unmanned aerial vehicle."

Gillingham said the idea for the motion, supported by Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), came this summer when he met representatives of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, NAV Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces and was told a bylaw regulating drones would help with safety.

He said the motion would include having the city’s administration check to see how other cities are dealing with the issue and if there are any budget or legal implications.

Gillingham said he doesn’t know if a bylaw would include remote-control airplanes and helicopters.

Gillingham acknowledged Transport Canada regulations govern the operation of aerial drones but he said the city can still have a role to play that would complement the federal regulations and meet the needs of users and the public.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.caaldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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