Property Basics

As a property owner you are responsible for paying annual property taxes, which help to fund services like road maintenance and garbage collection.  You are also responsible for maintaining your driveway culverts and ensuring drainage from your property does not negatively impact neighbours.

The Development Process

Development may include subdivision, site preparation, building, or even tree removal.  If you want to develop your property, check the following flowchart to make sure you consider all the main steps of the process. Also, consider incorporating Active Design in your proposal whenever possible!

Development process

Additional Considerations

  • If your property is considered a heritage site, your development may need to follow certain guidelines and the proposal may be referred to the Heritage Commission.
  • Property information that may be helpful in the planning of your development proposal, such as zoning, may be found on the interactive online map, BowMap.
  • Zoning regulates land uses and what you can build (size, height, setbacks, etc).  Zoning regulations are found in the Land Use Bylaw
  • Consider incorporating Active Design in your project whenever possible.  Active Design encourages active living, which contributes to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the island.
  • If your development is on or near the shoreline, consider a Green Shores approach for long-term sustainability and to minimize environmental impacts.
  • Your property may be the location of an archaeological site, where there is evidence of past human activity. Archaeological sites are fragile. Damaging a site without a heritage permit is unlawful. You can request archaeological information about a property yourself. If you are considering property improvements and find you have a site on your property, you must consult with a qualified archaeologist to determine the next steps. If archaeological studies are required, the BC Archaeology Branch will work with you to avoid or minimize site damage during property improvements. Please submit the BC Archaeological Information Request Form to request information on your site. For more information see the BC Government brochure.

Development may include subdivision, site preparation, building, or even tree removal.  A number of approvals or permits may be required to ensure that development is done responsibly.  Commonly required approvals include:

Subdivision Approval

If you want to create additional lots or change the boundaries of your property you will need to apply for a subdivision.  Subdivisions must comply with the Official Community Plan and the Land Use Bylaw.

Apply for a Subdivision

As of January 15, 2020, Bowen Island Municipality, on behalf of Translink, is required to collect the Regional Transportation DCC for all building permits issued and subdivisions approved on Bowen Island.

Lot Consolidation

If you want to amalgamate two or more properties, you will need to apply to the British Columbia Land Title Office.

Site Alteration Permits

Starting January 1, 2023, Bowen Island Municipality requires a site alteration permit for work that alters land, specifically the removal or deposit of soil and the clearing of land above a set threshold.

For more information please read the material below, and contact the Planning Department at

Development Permit

Development Permit Areas (DPA) are designated on Bowen Island to protect the natural environment, help revitalize commercial areas, or establish form and character of certain development.  If your proposed development is within a DPA, it must meet the applicable guidelines and you must obtain a Development Permit (DP) before commencing any work.  Go to BowMap to find your property and see if it is within any DPAs. NOTE: The Development Permit application includes a checklist that specifies all required information that needs to be submitted for the application to be processed.

Development Permit Areas

Apply for a Development Permit

Board of Variance Approval

The Board of Variance (BOV) considers minor variances in siting, dimensions, or size requirements where compliance with the Land Use Bylaw would cause undue hardship. For example, if a big rock in a yard made it a hardship to site a house in conformity with the required setbacks, a person could apply for a minor variance.

The BOV cannot vary the permitted uses, densities, or parking under the Land Use Bylaw, nor does it to deal with major variance applications. Major variances require a Development Variance Permit application (see below).

Apply for a BOV Approval

Development Variance Permit

If your lot has unique features or circumstances that makes it hard to meet the Land Use Bylaw requirements, you may choose to apply to Council for a Development Variance Permit (DVP).  Permitted uses and density cannot be varied by a DVP. A rezoning application would be required to vary permitted uses or density (see Land Use Planning for more information on rezoning applications).

Apply for a Development Variance Permit

Covenant Amendment

An application form and fee is required if the development requires a covenant amendment.

Moorage Approval

Moorage proposals must comply with the Land Use Bylaw and require a Building Permit to build, extend, improve, or replace a private/group moorage facility (i.e. a dock, float, gangway, pier, boat lift). Building Permit applications must be accompanied by foreshore tenure (usually a Specific Permission) issued by the Province of British Columbia.

Apply for a Moorage Facility