We recently were passed along information from a client that was denied access to HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality – Nova Scotia) property for UAV use. We had heard conflicting reports from other operators stating that this was not the case. For clarity we reached out to HRM for an official statement on this. The following was received via HRM Risk & Insurance Services:
“Commercial and recreational drone use is relatively new and therefore what we call a new and emerging risk. Until sufficient time has passed and data available to enable additional research including tracking of claims or incidents, regretfully, there will be no permits or approvals issued for commercial or recreational drone usage from HRM property.
With the exception of HRM’s emergency response Teams, HRM has made the decision not to allow commercial or recreational drone use from HRM property. This extends to and includes the issues of permits and approvals for commercial or recreational drone use from HRM parks and open spaces. Drone use over streets and sidewalks may cause a distraction or hazard for motor vehicle operators -including Metro Transit and is especially concerning.
Prior to reaching this decision, significant research on the use of drones- both commercially and recreationally in other Canadian Municipalities and across North America was completed. All applicable legislation, drone design, the variety of uses and industry standards were reviewed.”
This essentially puts all HRM operated/manged areas, such as parks, sports fields, green spaces off limits to recreational & commercial drone use. It is unclear what the penalties may be for violation, however it would be a violation of SFOC conditions as property owner permission is required. This applies only to use from HRM property directly, operations based on private area or areas managed by other agencies should still be possible as HRM can only control property access not airspace.
We are disappointed in this backward approach with a complete ban on all use. UAVs offer the potential of many great uses when done properly, legally, by insured and trained operators, tasks that may otherwise be done via riskier traditional means. HRM’s approach to stop all use limits growth of the industry within the region.
Many/most other cities in Canada, while may have bylaws on recreational use, do have processes to allow for commercial operation of UAVs and see the value and benefit of their use, unfortunately HRM seems to feel a complete ban is the easier solution.
Halifax promotes itself as an innovative technical region for business, however policies such as this paint a different picture. Those with concerns we suggest reach out to your Councillor to voice concerns.