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Can You Fly a Drone in Edmonton?

Edmonton is Alberta’s capital and features the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. You’re also right on the North Saskatchewan River and its idyllic views.

You would love an opportunity to fly your drone in Edmonton, but is it legal?

You can fly a drone in Edmonton if you have a permit. You may need an additional permit to use your drone at events. Further, you must follow all local drone laws and Transport Canada rules.

Before enjoying a dream trip to Edmonton with your drone, make sure you don’t miss this guide. We’ll delve into permitting information and the rules you need to know before you launch your drone.

Let’s get started!

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Can you fly a drone in Edmonton?

The city of Edmonton welcomes drone pilots but requires them to have permits.

The City of Edmonton website[1] says: “All drones/Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) flights on City of Edmonton property require a permit regardless if the use of the imagery is for commercial or personal use.”

The permit applies for “flights on or above parkland, as well as during festivals and events.”

However, if you’re going to fly within 100 feet of an advertised event’s boundaries, then you’d also need a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

“The boundaries of an advertised event (outdoor event including a concert, performance, festival, market or sporting event and so on) are limited by perimeter fences and gates where people are restricted by the event personnel, volunteers and security, or peace officers,” says the City of Edmonton.

“Where no such perimeter is defined for outdoor advertised events like for marathons, triathlons, cycling, swimming or skiing event, fishing derby, sailing, cruise ships, fireworks and so on, it is expected that the boundaries of the advertised event will be at least 100’ from people participating in the advertised event and 100’ from the track of the sporting event for all category of drone/RPAS pilot certificates and model of small drone/RPAS.”

If you’re not using a drone for filming and photography, you wouldn’t need a permit unless for commercial purposes, but all nature of drone photography and videography requires a permit.

The City of Edmonton website also notes that you can contact the Civics Events Office for a permit, which approves all drone flights and flights in outdoor, parkland, and open spaces throughout the city.

Permits in Edmonton – What you need to know

The fate of your drone use in Edmonton rests in the hands of the Civics Events Office. If you don’t get a permit approved, then you can’t use your drone here, end of story.

Who needs a permit to fly?

Both commercial and recreational drone pilots need a Civics Events Office permit to launch a drone in the City of Edmonton. The city doesn’t have special rules for lightweight drones, so the rule still stands even if your drone weighs 250 grams or under.

Further, as we touched on in the section above, if you use your drone at a festival or event, then you need an SFOC, which is an additional permit. You may also need licensee or festival organizer permission.

You can fill out the application form for drone flights here (excludes SFOC).

What’s included in the permit application

So what kind of information does the Civics Events Office want you to send in as part of your application?

Let’s go over that now:

  • The full name of the drone operator and permit holder.
  • A full production description.
  • The number of crew you’ll have onsite.
  • Your projected arrival time and departure time.
  • A full map of the flight area, including any launch and landing zones, your distance from nearby heliports, marked safe areas (and their lateral distances), and the projected flight path.
  • All the equipment you’ll use when flying your drone and/or filming or taking photos.
  • A copy of your Drone Registration Certificate (you don’t need this for drones under 250 grams).
  • A copy of your basic or advanced Pilot’s Certificate (you also don’t need this for drones under 250 grams).
  • A certificate of aviation insurance with a value of at least $2 million with the City of Edmonton included in the Additional Insured section.
  • A notification letter including mention of any and all businesses, locations, and individuals who your drone flight will impact.
  • A hazard assessment.

Applying doesn’t guarantee that the Civics Events Office will approve your request.

Including the full information the office asks for might boost your chances, but it depends on whether the City of Edmonton can accommodate your drone request.

Canada drone laws to remember

Did the Civics Events Office approve your drone flight request? Excellent! Now you can experience the wonders that Edmonton has to offer.

If this will be your first trip to Canada, here are the country’s drone laws per Transport Canada.

Keep your distance from aircraft, heliports, and airports

From other drones to helicopters and airplanes, Canadian law requires you to maintain a clear distance from aircraft when you see them.

Additionally, you’re prohibited from flying any closer than 1.9 kilometers or one nautical mile from any heliport and 5.6 kilometers or three nautical miles from any airport.

Unless permitted, don’t fly near advertised events

Drones may receive permission to fly near advertised events, as we discussed, but the closest your drone can be is within 100 feet.

Without a special SFOC permit, pilots should avoid these events. You’re also barred from flying too close to any emergency operations.

Fly 30 meters from people

Basic drone operation rules in Canada prohibit pilots from flying any closer than 30 meters or 98.42 feet from bystanders.

Limit your flight altitude to 400 feet

Will your trip to Edmonton be your first time flying a drone outside the United States? The same altitude limit the FAA imposes, 400 feet, applies in Canada as well.

Nighttime use is allowed if your drone has lights

Flying after dark is a risky proposition in many cases, but Canada does permit nighttime drone use. Your drone must have lights affixed to it, or it’s ineligible to fly.

Keep your drone within your visual line of sight

Day or night, your drone remains your responsibility. You’re breaking the law by continuing to fly the UAV when it extends beyond your visual line of sight.

Bring your valid drone certificate

You need a valid drone certificate as part of your application to fly in Edmonton but do more than provide a copy. Carry your original, valid certificate on your person. If asked to produce the certificate, willingly do so.

Just as an FYI, only Transport Canada can issue you a valid drone certificate. If your certificate happens to be from any other authority, it’s not recognized as valid.

Register drones over 250 grams

Like the US has weight thresholds for registering a drone, Canada does too. If your drone weighs more than 250 grams, you must register it through Transport Canada. Bring the registration with you when you fly.

What punishments can you incur if you break the drone laws in Canada?

Transport Canada makes it very clear what kinds of penalties you’ll face for violating its laws. The first offense always results in fines. All prices are listed in Canadian dollars.

  • If you put people and aircraft at risk – a $3,000 fine for individual pilots and a $15,000 fine for corporations.
  • If you fly in prohibited areas – a $1,000 fine for individual pilots and a $5,000 fine for corporations.
  • If your drone is unmarked or unregistered – a $1,000 fine for individual pilots and a $5,000 fine for corporations.
  • If you don’t have a drone pilot certificate – a $1,000 fine for individual pilots and a $5,000 fine for corporations.

You could incur multiple penalties for violating several rules.

Conclusion  

Edmonton features placid lakes, crystal glaciers, deep canyons, dazzling waterfalls, and plenty of grizzly bears.

If you hope to film or photograph these wondrous sights with your drone, you must have a permit. You’ll need an additional permit if you hope to use your drone during Edmonton’s many events.

Fly safe out there!

References:
1. City of Edmonton (link)