Kelowna News

B.C. asks for tougher regulations after drones hamper wildfire fight

A helicopter fills a water bucket in Oliver during the fight against the Testalinden Creek wildfire. British Columbia is getting tough on drones after unmanned aerial vehicles grounded aircraft fighting wildfires this summer.

VANCOUVER - British Columbia is getting tough on drones after unmanned aerial vehicles grounded aircraft fighting wildfires this summer.

Mike Morris, parliamentary secretary to the minister of forests, says the province has asked Transport Canada to strengthen regulations around drones and impose stiffer penalties for violators.

The Forests Ministry wants several issues addressed, including privacy, how drones are registered, and certification of drone operators.

The province is also planning a public awareness campaign to ensure drone owners are aware of their responsibilities.

A drone flying above a wildfire near Oliver earlier this month grounded eight helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft for more than four hours while the fire spread, while air operations were halted during the fight against the Westside Road fire.

Current regulations prohibit the use of drones near wildfires, and violators can be fined up to $25,000 and face up to 18 months in jail.


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