We’ve been noticing a lot of questions about people looking to fly their drones in various Provincial Parks across Canada, and there seems to be a little confusion as to whether or not it’s allowed. After reading through various Provincial Parks Acts, we were surprised at the differing laws from across the country.  It certainly isn’t as clear as we would have expected, and understand where the confusion comes from.

For flying drones in Canada’s National Parks, there is only one document you need to read, the National Parks Act. However, for Provincial Parks, you have to look in to each Province’s Parks Act for a set of regulations for that particular province. Most of these regulations were written to govern traditional aircraft, and may or may not include model aircraft and/or drones as each document will have its own interpretation of what defines an “aircraft”.  That being said, in the eyes of Transport Canada, your drone is regulated by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, and is considered an aircraft.

As always, the end user is fully responsible for proper research and use of their drone. We are not lawyers, and the information provided here is simply a resource to help you find information on proper use.

 

Alberta’s Provincial Parks Act for example, lists the following regulations for aircraft use in parks.

Interpretation

(a) “aircraft” means a device that is designed to carry one or more persons or objects through the air in powered or powerless flight;

Aircraft

A person shall not take off or land an aircraft in a park or recreation area except

(a) where allowed to do so by a permission of the Minister and in accordance with any conditions set out in the permission,

(b) on a body of water that is designated, and in accordance with any conditions established, by order of the Minister for float plane access,

(c) in the case of a hang-glider, parasail or other non-powered aircraft, in a specific location that is designated, and in accordance with any conditions established, by order of the Minister for that purpose, or

(d) in another prescribed location or situation.

Seizures

A conservation officer may seize any motor vehicle, off-highway vehicle, aircraft, boat, trailer or any equipment, appliance or other article or object that is being used in a park or recreation area in contravention of this Act or the regulations, or in contravention of any other Act or the regulations made under that Act, whether it is found in the possession of the person alleged to have committed the contravention or not.

 

British Columbia’s Park, Conservancy and Recerational Area Regulations

Aircraft

27(1) Subject to the Act and this section, a person may use an aircraft to arrive at or depart from a park, conservancy or recreation area.

(2) A person must not use an aircraft to arrive at or depart from parks or parts of parks that are set out in Column 1 of Schedule A, except as may be provided for in the same row in Column 2 of that schedule.

[en. B.C. Reg. 242/2004, s. 1; am. B.C. Reg. 215/2006, Sch. s. 8.]

 

Ontario Provincial parks and Conservation Reserves Act

23 (1)  No person shall take a motor vehicle, all terrain vehicle, bus, boat or aircraft into a provincial park or possess or operate any of them in a provincial park except under the authority of a valid provincial park permit.  O. Reg. 347/07, s. 23 (1).

Aircraft

(1)  No person shall land an aircraft in a provincial park.  O. Reg. 347/07, s. 33 (1).

(2)  Despite subsection (1), a person with a valid aircraft landing authorization issued by the superintendent may land an aircraft,

(a)   in a provincial park named in Column 2 of Schedule 2 in an area named in Column 3 of that Schedule if the conditions set out in that Column are met; and

(b)   in a wilderness class park in accordance with Ontario Regulation 346/07 (Mechanized Travel in Wilderness Class Parks) made under the Act.  O. Reg. 347/07, s. 33 (2).

(3)  Revoked:  O. Reg. 22/11, s. 13.

 

Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Parks Regulation

Use of aircraft

(1) A person shall not land an aircraft in or take off in an aircraft from a provincial park unless he or she had first obtained a permit to do so from the minister.

(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply where the health or safety of a person requires that an aircraft land in or take off from a provincial park without a permit to do so first having been obtained from the minister.

 

While the example of Alberta’s Parks Act is fairly clear, some are a little more ambiguous.  British Columbia allows aircraft (with exceptions) in many parks.  Whereas Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec does not seem to have any rules governing aircraft use at all.  It all depends on what province you’re in.

These regulations will apply for both recreational drone pilots and holders of a valid Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).

We would love to hear of your experiences either flying in parks or in dealings with Parks staff regarding their use. Please email your stories or post comments below!


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Resources:

Alberta Parks Act

British Columbia – Park, Conservancy and Recreational Area Regulation

Saskatchewan Parks Act

Manitoba Parks Act

Ontario Parks Act

Quebec Parks Act / Quebec Parks Regulation

PEI Provincial Parks Regulations

Newfoundland Provincial Parks Regulations

Yukon Parks and Land Certainty Act