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What is permitted?
How is it regulated?


Council has amended the Land Use Bylaw to allow Residential Guest Accommodation (RGA) use.  Before the bylaw amendment, renting out an entire dwelling for less than 30 consecutive days was not a permitted use on Bowen Island unless the property was zoned for a commercial accommodation use. What does this mean for you?  Follow this flowchart to find out.

The following information is for the new RGA use.  If you would like more information on long term rentals, Bed & Breakfasts or commercial accommodations, please contact the Planning & Development department: planning@bimbc.ca


RGA use has been permitted as a result of the Short Term Rental Policy #19-05.  This policy was informed by over six months of engagement to identify community needs and an appropriate regulatory framework. 

RGAs are being permitted on Bowen Island to contribute to the accommodation sector and local economy.  They are being regulated to ensure operator accountability and to minimize impacts on residential neighbourhoods and long term housing.

Read more about the Short Term Rental Policy development process

What is permitted?

According to the Short Term Rental Policy, RGA should be accessory to the principal use of dwelling.  Therefore, RGA is defined in the Land Use Bylaw as follows:

“RESIDENTIAL GUEST ACCOMMODATION” means an accessory use of a dwelling unit, or a portion of one, that is ordinarily occupied as a residence, as temporary accommodation for a paying guest for a period of less than 30 consecutive days, and for clarity does not include a bed and breakfast, commercial guest accommodation, guest house, inn, or retreat centre.

RGA should be accessory to the principal use of dwelling

Any dwelling unit, including a secondary suite, may be used for RGA, as long as the unit meets the Land Use Bylaw definition:

“DWELLING UNIT” means a building containing sleeping and living areas and kitchen designed, used or intended for use as one residence.

Any dwelling unit, including a secondary suite, may be used for RGA

How is it regulated?

To address key community concerns, the following RGA regulations have been adopted:

  • RGA is only allowed to operate a total of 120 days per year
  • At least one on-site parking space per bedroom used for RGA
  • Limit of 2 adult guests per bedroom used for RGA
  • Only one booking at a time
  • Designated individual must be available 24-hours a day to respond to complaints within two hours.

“DESIGNATED INDIVIDUAL” means a person designated as the primary contact for a Residential Guest Accommodation.  The designated individual may be the operator or someone that is authorized to make decisions in relation to the premises and the operation of the residential guest accommodation.

To ensure operator accountability, a business licence is required to operate an RGA. Any advertising for the RGA must display the business licence number.

A business licence is required to operate an RGA

A business licence application for an RGA must provide proof of adequate insurance, as well as number of bedrooms, number of parking spaces and maximum number of guests for the RGA.  Contact information for the Designated Individual must be provided to neighbours and guests and made publicly available on the municipal website.

For more information on how to get an RGA business licence, visit the Business Licensing webpage: https://www.bowenislandmunicipality.ca/apply-for-a-business-licence

Watch the video recording of a virtual workshop explaining the process for licensing a Residential Guest Accommodation.

An online monitoring service will be used to help enforce regulations, along with random checks throughout the year.  An RGA with three contraventions will lose its business licence and may not operate.

Council will be reviewing the regulations at the end of 2021.  The review will evaluate effectiveness of the regulatory approach in meeting community needs and whether further changes will be needed.


120 days of RGA use per year in residential zones is considered a reasonable number of days that will help provide additional income for full- and part-time residents and meet demand for guest accommodation on the island, while keeping the residential area just that – a residential neighbourhood.  A short term rental operation for more than 120 days would be considered a commercial use, which would be permitted under the commercial accommodation options listed above.

You would need to apply for a Temporary Use Permit or a rezoning of your property for commercial accommodation use.  These processes involve a public notice period and are approved at the discretion of Council.

Alternatively, your unit may be rented out as a long term rental at anytime.  Rentals for periods greater than 30 days are considered a permitted dwelling use in all residential zones and are regulated under the provincial Residential Tenancy Act.

Secondary suites may be used for RGA to provide homeowners flexibility in the use of their secondary suites while still preserving units for future long term rental housing.

120 days of RGA operation would yield similar income to a full year of long term rental, allowing the option of long term rental to remain competitive with RGA.

Both commercial accommodations and Bed & Breakfasts have always been permitted year-round. The new RGA use will now provide an additional accommodation option in all residential zones to help contribute to community economic development, subject to the 120-day limit for reasons described above.