SASKATOON -- Before the City of Saskatoon banned piloting remotely-controlled drones within city limits last year, Murray WIlson flew his Phantom 3 high above his condo complex near Circle Drive, capturing high-definition views of the south end of the city.

“I got my license about a year ago and right about the time I got my license is when Saskatoon shut down being able to fly drones within the city,” Wilson said. ”Essentially there is no recreational flying within Saskatoon whatsoever.”

Since city council passed a bylaw prohibiting drone pilots from flying recreationally in the city, Wilson has been forced to fly only when he’s out near Barrier Lake south of Tisdale.

He’s penned a letter to the city’s planning and development committee that will be reviewed during its meeting next week, asking for a more relaxed approach to the bylaw that would allow recreational drone pilots to fly in the city’s parks.

Currently, the city’s bylaw states no person shall fly a remotely piloted aircraft in, on or above property owned by the city, or leased by the city, or under the jurisdiction and control of the city, except as permitted by the city.

“What I would ask for is to be able to register with the city, a permit to be able to recreationally fly my drone in a specific park or place within the city that is out of the control zone of the airport,” Wilson said.

According to the city’s website, commercial drone pilots can apply for a permit through the City of Saskatoon. On the permit request form, the city requires a pilot to carry $2 million aircraft liability insurance and general liability insurance. Wilson said there’s no similar avenue for recreational users.

“I’m very frustrated to be living here and suddenly I’m not allowed to fly, so to be able to get a permit to be able to fly in a park, that’d be great, just to keep practicing flying the drone,” Wilson said.

Transport Canada requires all drone pilots with drones heavier than 250 grams to carry a valid drone pilot certificate at all times when operating a drone. Pilots are also required to follow the Canadian Aviation Regulations around remotely-piloted aircrafts. 

In an emailed statement, the city said the current bylaw restricting the use of remotely piloted aircraft in, on or above public property is to protect both the privacy and safety of residents.

The city’s planning and development committee will review Wilson’s letter on Monday.