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Can You Fly a Drone in Vancouver?

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Vancouver is a widely populated seaport known for its mountains and culture, especially musically and artistically.

You’ve always wanted to experience Vancouver for yourself, and now that you have the opportunity, you’re thinking about bringing your drone along for the ride.

Can you fly a drone in Vancouver?

You can fly a drone in Vancouver, but you’re prohibited from certain parts of this major city, including national and provincial parks, airports, and populous parts. Some of the best places to fly a drone in Vancouver are Deep Cove Park, Richard Bolton Park, and Deep Lake Park.

This article will tell you all you need to know about flying a drone in Vancouver, including more recommendations for where to do it, where you can’t fly, and the drone laws in Canada.

Can you fly a drone in Vancouver? #

According to Transport Canada, the country’s leading drone authority, drones are legally permitted in Canada, including in Vancouver.

However, that doesn’t mean you can fly anywhere you want. Here’s a list of places where your drone is likely off-limits.

Downtown Vancouver #

As one of the most populated parts of Vancouver, while you’re not expressly banned from the downtown area, there just isn’t enough room for your drone to fly comfortably.

This part of the city features department stores, nightlife, bars, restaurants, and clubs.

You’re better off spending your time in Vancouver elsewhere unless you want to visit downtown without your drone.

Beaches #

Vancouver has a variety of beaches, including Trout Lake Beach, New Brighton Beach, Spanish Banks Beach Park, and many more.

You should be permitted to operate your drone around the beaches here. That said, the lighter your drone, the better, as you’ll have more flight freedom around crowds.

Even if your drone can fly around people, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best idea.

You should always respect the privacy of others as a drone pilot, which means maintaining a reasonable distance while you do your thing and the other beachgoers do theirs.

To that end, you might plan to visit the beach during the cold offseason or at least during off-peak hours during the summer, such as earlier in the day or during the week.

Airports #

Vancouver has the Vancouver International Airport and the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre.

Transport Canada laws prohibit drones within one nautical mile of the closest heliport and three nautical miles of the closest airport.

Parks #

Lots of greenspace abounds around Vancouver, and while you can enjoy public parks with your drone, you’re prohibited from flying near national and provincial parks.

You must have prior permission, and that’s not often granted to drone pilots.

Keep in mind that while you’re typically barred from using your drone in the above places, those aren’t the only parts of Vancouver where drone use may be off-limits.

Please use a drone map to discern between restricted and unrestricted airspace.

The 6 best places to fly a drone in Vancouver #

For as many parts of Vancouver as you’re disallowed in, the city has many parks that frequently see drone enthusiasts gathering in droves.

Here’s an overview of spots to visit and take your drone for a spin.

1. Deep Cove Park #

Drone pilots have had good luck using UAVs at Deep Cove Park in northern Vancouver. The park features a loop trail that’s an easy 0.7 miles and requires less than 20 minutes to complete.

Besides the trail, Deep Cove Park attracts Canadians who love running, hiking, and birding.

The park should have crowds but is spaced out enough that you should be able to create some distance between you and them.

2. English Bay #

English Bay in British Columbia near Burrard Peninsula extends across Burrard Inlet, the University Endowment Lands, West Point Grey, Kitsilano, West End, and Stanley Park.

In warmer weather, you’ll typically see people gathering here to watch sunsets, swim, or sunbathe.

The bay is also in proximity to Third Beach, Second Beach, Sunset Beach, Locarno Beach, Jericho Beach, and Kitsilano Beach, so the crowds may be a little more spaced out.

The sights here are gorgeous and worth capturing with your drone. You’ll take in the beauty of the beaches, the tranquility of the bay, and the urbanization of the nearby high-rise apartments.

3. Richard Bolton Park #

For more greenspace, try Richard Bolton Park. This park in nearby Burnaby is categorized as Class G uncontrolled airspace.

You can see Burnaby Mountain from certain elevations, which is truly a sight to behold.

Be forewarned that you’re not far from a heliport zone, so check your drone map and stay within the allowable parameters.

4. Kitsilano Beach #

From the English Bay, you can jump right to Kitsilano Beach (not literally, of course), as this beach permits drone use.

The beach has the lengthiest swimming pool in the country that the Vancouver Park Board operates.

However, keep in mind that Kitsilano Beach is among the most popular in this part of Vancouver.

In the summer especially, the beach will attract massive crowds. You won’t be able to use your drone when it’s people as far as the eye can see.

5. Albert Crescent Park #

Another great park to add to your list is Albert Crescent Park in nearby New Westminster. Declared the flagship park in the area, Albert Crescent Park is 4.5 acres of fun.

It features trails, sports courts and fields, skate parks, outdoor pools, outdoor fitness circuits, playgrounds, and a community garden.

The park has a heliport zone to the south where you’re not permitted to fly, but barring any large crowds, the rest of the park is fair game within reason. 

6. Deer Lake Park #

The last spot we recommend for flying a drone around Vancouver is Deer Lake Park in Burnaby
But what about flying a drone in the nearby town of Whistler?
 . Although you’re within reach of the Burnaby Art Gallery, you’re far away enough that you can fly peacefully.

The lakeside trails and picnic areas here create a calm environment, as does the city’s architecture peaking over the tall trees.

What happens if you use your drone illegally in Vancouver? #

You don’t want to use your drone illegally in Vancouver unless you have very deep pockets. Even then, we’d still not recommend it.

Should you disobey Transport Canada’s drone laws, you’ll  receive a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 CAD for each drone infraction. That’s $740 to $2,216 USD.

If you commit multiple infractions, you’ll double or even triple the fine!

Canada drone laws to know before visiting Vancouver #

Before launching your drone in beautiful Vancouver, get yourself up to speed on Canada’s drone laws. They’ll ensure a safe flight for all!

You must have a valid certificate #

If you’re at least 14 years old, you can apply for a basic drone license in Canada. Once you turn 16, you can hold an advanced license.

All drone pilots operating in Canada must have a license or be supervised by a license holder (in the case of pilots under 16).

The only permissible certificates in the country are those officially administered by Transport Canada. Your license must be valid, or you can’t use a drone.

You must register and mark your drone #

If your drone weighs under 250 grams, you don’t have to register it. All other drones you own must undergo registration with Transport Canada before you can legally fly.

You must also mark your drone.

Avoid manned aircraft #

Since you’re restricted from getting too close to airports and heliports, you should find it easy to avoid manned aircraft, but remember, this is more than a courtesy. It’s the law!

Do not interrupt emergency operations with your drone #

Transport Canada prohibits drones from veering too close to forest fires to other emergencies. You could interrupt emergency operations and possibly hinder the operations, costing lives!

Don’t fly near big events or close to crowds #

Transport Canada also cautions drone pilots to keep their distance from parades, outdoor concerts, and other advertised events.

You must also keep a horizontal distance of at least 30 meters from crowds during basic operations.

Fly no higher than 122 meters #

The standard drone height of 122 meters or 400 feet applies in Canada. This max height limits your distance from manned aircraft.

Only fly your drone where you can see it #

You can fly your drone at night in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada, but it must have lights affixed to it.

Otherwise, you must be able to see your drone to use it, so if you don’t have lights, only fly by day!

Vancouver is one of the most popular parts of Canada and a city that permits drone use.

You cannot fly in the city’s national parks, airports, heliports, or around crowded areas. Remember to always follow Transport Canada laws and have a fun time!


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