Dave Naylor

Published: May 18, 2021

-Western Standard


A plan by the UCP government to use a drone on long-weekend campers in the province has been grounded before it even lifted off.

The Western Standard reported early Tuesday morning about a request for proposal issued Friday by the government looking for drone operators to carry out surveillance.

But a few hours later, the request was officially cancelled.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon issued a statement saying his office wasn’t aware of the proposal.

“As soon as I became aware of this (sic) of the request for suppliers related to Long Range Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones) I instructed my department to suspend it. I have been informed that the request for suppliers has now been taken down,” said Nixon

“This request was not reviewed or approved by me or my office before it was posted. These devices should not and will not be used to monitor visitors while they recreate in our parks or public lands. I have been clear with my department, that while drones are an effective and cost-effective tool for wildfire monitoring and search and rescue assistance, they must never be used to encroach on privacy.”

The government’s proposal, first made public by the Alberta Insitute, said it was looking for “airborne Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance” for use primarily during long weekends in June, July, August, September, and October, 2021.

After a daily briefing, the drone’s pilot would launch it and be on the lookout for things like campfires and off-road vehicles.

The pilot would also be looking for campsites with “10 or more people.”

Outdoor gatherings in Alberta are currently limited to five people because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Because Albertans have to book campsites through the government, it would already have all the campers’ details on file for any tickets.