Where Can I Fly My Drone in Vancouver
Flying Your Drone in Vancouver, British Columbia
Are you flying your drone in or around Vancouver, British Columbia? As Transport Canada states “Drones are aircraft – which makes you a pilot. When you fly your drone, you’re sharing the skies with other drones and aircraft. Before you fly, understand the rules you must follow…”
The above image has been circulating the internet (reddit) regarding where you can and can’t fly your drone in Vancouver. The image provides a general idea of some unsafe areas, but you should do more due-diligence before you set out to capture some beautiful footage of the Vancouver area.
Vancouver and the surrounding area has some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada. Naturally individuals love to capture it with their drones. Professional pilots fly drones to capture Vancouver Tourism work, Construction, Surveys and many other practices. It’s important to know and understand the laws around flying your drone in Vancouver. While federal legislation has been passed, by laws can also come in to effect in specific areas and it’s important you research them before you head out to fly your drone in and around Vancouver.
Film permits from the City of Vancouver are required for any professional video production, similar to traditional film work throughout the city. You can find more information here.
Common questions asked about where you can fly your drone in and around Vancouver:
Can I fly my drone in Stanley Park?
- While there’s not yet the bylaw in place to outright ban recreational drone flying in Stanley Park (it’s coming though!), it’s a terrible place to fly a drone. You’re on an approach path with lots of low-flying helicopters and float planes and there are many sensitve wildlife habitats including eagles, which have been known to take down small drones. It is possible to fly there with an advanced certification, but requires prior permission from NAV Canada and the parks board.
Can I fly my drone in Golden Ears Park?
- No, drones are not allowed in any provincial or national parks without prior permission, which is challenging to get.
Can I fly my drone near the ocean at one of Vancouver’s beaches?
- It depends. A sub 250g drone can probably be flown safely and legally. We’d recommend you land if you see/hear any aircraft and don’t go much higher than treeline. If your drone is over 250g like a Mavic Pro or Phantom, it’ll be tough to maintain 30m from bystanders which would include other beachgoers, boaters, etc like is required with a basic certification. If you’re an advanced certificate holder you can most likely do so as long as you follow your SOPs including a site survey and minimum distances from bystanders established prior to flight.
Can I use my drone on top of a Vancouver park or school?
- With schools, if you can meet the requirements of your certification, then yes! It’s best practice to make sure you have permission of the property owner before you use their land to launch and land. Be cautious of operating around kids who may not understand the risk of spinning propeller blades.
- Parks are trickier. There’s currently bylaws on the table to prevent recreational drone flying in Vancouver parks. Commercial flying (either with a basic or advanced certifcation) is permitted with proper process and permission.
How can I find out exactly where I can fly my drone in and around Vancouver?
- There aren’t any maps that say “fly here!” but you can use some of the resources below to help. Start with airspace. Avoid flying in busy, controlled airspace even if your drone is under 250g. While possible, it’s not smart, particularly with the amount of air traffic in and around Vancouver harbour and the hospitals. The float operations run from dawn until dusk so find some time outside of that and get permission as applicable.
- Avoid areas with people who might complain. Try to go somewhere that’s not populated and give people a heads up whenever possible.
Can I fly my drone downtown Vancouver?
- If you can operate within the restrictions of your certification, then yes! If you’re flying for work, you may need a film permit particularly if you’re operating off of City of Vancouver property.
How much is the fine if I fly my drone somewhere in Vancouver I’m not supposed to?
- $3000 per infraction. So if you’re not certified, flying an unregistered drone in controlled airspace and get caught because you’re too near to people, you’re looking at up to $12000.
Important links for Vancouver Drone Pilots:
Flying your drone safely and legally – Transport Canada
Drone site selection tool – National Research Council Canada
Canadian Airspace Viewer
British Columbia Wildfire Service – Fire Bans & Restrictions
Use of Drones & Drone Filming – University of British Columbia (UBC)
Images taken outdoors by drones (policy) – Simon Fraser University (SFU)
City of Vancouver Bylaw database
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