New drone restrictions don't fly with hobby shop owner

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New drone restrictions don't fly with hobby shop owner

New restrictions on flying recreational remote controlled aircraft go too far and will hurt his business, says one of the owners of P.E.I.-based Great Hobbies.

"As someone who's in the business of selling drones and model aircraft, it's frustrating," said Jim Ewing.

Ewing said he has enjoyed flying model aircraft since he was 12.

"You learn so much and get to enjoy a camaraderie, learn technologies, learn to fly, get outside in fresh air," he said. "All of that kind of thing is now being heavily regulated."

On Thursday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the new rules, which are effective immediately. Recreational users will face a fine of up to $3,000 if drones weighing more than 250 grams are caught flying under the following circumstances:

- Higher than 90 metres.

- Within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals or people.

- More than 500 metres away from the user.

- At night, in clouds or somewhere you can't see it.

- Within nine kilometres of somewhere aircraft take off or land, or a forest fire.

- Without your name, address and phone number marked on the drone itself.

- Over forest fires, emergency response scenes or controlled airspace.

"I'm taking strong measures now before a drone hits an airplane and causes a catastrophic event," Garneau said when announcing the rules. "That's the kind of nightmare scenario that keeps me awake at night as your Transport Minister."

Ewing says he understands why there are regulations to keep drones away from airplanes and large crowds of people. But he said the rules, such as the one that prohibits flying drones within nine kilometres of an airport, are too strict. He has written a letter that he plans to send to Garneau with suggestions on how to make the rules more flyer-friendly.

"From our perspective, of course people are all of a sudden, 'OK there's massive fines for all of this here. I don't want anything to do with it anymore,'" Ewing said.

"Well, if that's a major portion of our business, it doesn't take much math to figure out where that's all going to go. You know it's going to hurt business, there's no question about that."

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