Despite a warning from the Vancouver police about the dangers of flying drones into the fireworks ahead of the first Celebration of Light display, the organizers of the event say they flew one to film the fireworks Saturday night.
Randy Clegg with the Celebration of Light told Global News the drone was launched from the Bathhouse Roof by the event’s official videographer, who was controlling it.
We recognize that it was a distraction to some people in the crowds and appreciate everyone’s patience. We will not be using the drone on Wednesday during France’s performance or during Team Japan’s performance on Saturday, says Clegg.
Event producer Heather Sharpe says they are asking any spectator interested in flying drones anywhere near the event or fireworks “to consider the distraction that it is to guests and performers.”
“The spectator assumes all liability associated with the flying of their drone and that since the air space is controlled by Transport Canada and NavCan and that they should be sure to secure any permits required by those agencies,” says Sharpe.
On Friday, Vancouver police chief Jim Chu said there could be safety concerns when drones are flown near fireworks.
“With large crowds underneath, if something like that falls from the sky, it is a danger to the public,” he says.
A video of a drone flying through the fireworks in Palm Beach, Florida posted in May has gone viral and has received more than 9.5 million views on YouTube.
Chu says it is the first year that the issue of drones flying into fireworks has come up in Vancouver.
“It is something quite new to us,” says Chu. “It is something we have not dealt with in previous years.”
Despite police warning, a drone video of Saturday night’s fireworks appeared on YouTube the next day.
Chu says they have the authority to stop anyone who is doing something that could harm others, and there is an operational plan being drafted to deal with the drone issue.
However, Vancouver police also say they would begin an investigation only if a criminal offence was committed. Any complaints would be investigated by Transport Canada.
Transport Canada says they are aware of the reported operation of drones at last weekend’s Celebration of Light fireworks and they are reviewing the YouTube fireworks video filmed by a drone to see if there are any violations of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
Transport Canada is responsible for the Canadian Aviation Regulations which govern recreational use of model aircraft and commercial use of UAVs, and will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement actions in cases of non-compliance. Anyone with information on these types of incidents is urged to call Transport Canada at 1-800-305-2059.
There have been a few close calls involving drones in Vancouver skies in recent months.
A near-miss between a drone and an aircraft taking off from Vancouver’s airport is now the focus of an investigation by RCMP and Transport Canada.
On Canada Day, the pilot reported the incident with the unmanned, remote-controlled aerial vehicle that measured about half-a-metre square.
No one was hurt.
Earlier this year, a drone used to shoot a commercial in downtown Vancouver hit a building and crashed to the ground.
Once again, no one was injured, but the incident prompted a review by the city.