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Thompson-Okanagan: Rebuilding and replacing docks

What is a General Permission?
General Permission dock owners can have their dock authorized under a “general permission” if:

  • The dock owner if the owner or lessee of the property fronting the foreshore;
  • The dock being used for residential use only;
  • The dock not being located in an area of special interest, designated “application-only area” or reserve;
  • There are no other authorizations for the section of Crown land proposed for the dock; and
  • The dock is built to a specified standard and within size restrictions.

What are the standards and size restrictions for a General Permission dock?

A freshwater dock must not:

  • extend beyond a distance of 42 metres from the point where the walkway begins, measured perpendicular from the general trend of the shoreline;
  • have more than a three-metre-wide moorage platform or float; or
  • have more than a 1.5-metre wide walkway connecting the platform or float to the shore.

Existing docks constructed to satisfy previous government guidelines may be eligible for a general permission even though they have slightly different dimensions. 

The only improvements authorized are those improvements necessary for mooring a boat (including non-overhead boat lifts, pilings and anchor lines,), and a walkway. No beach houses, storage sheds, boathouses, roofs, fences, sun decks, hot tubs or other similar improvements are permitted.

How much does a General Permission cost and how long does it take to get one?
Before a dock can be built under a General Permission, a Notification of Instream Works (section 11 - Changes in and About a Stream under the water sustainability regulation) is required, which generally takes up to 45 days to process. There are no associated application fees.

What is a Specific Permission?
A Specific Permission is the form of tenure issued under the Land Act for a dock. A Specific Permission is required for docks in environmentally sensitive areas, application-only areas, and for docks that do not fall into the criteria for a General Permission dock.

How much does a Specific Permission cost and how long does it take?
Applications under a Specific Permission cost $262.50 and can take up to 140 days to process.

How do I determine whether I need a Specific Permission or General Permission?
Refer to the detailed criteria online:  
or call FrontCounter BC for assistance at 1 877 855-3222

When is the application for Changes in and About a Stream under the Water Sustainability Act required?
All works in about a stream or lake require authorization under the Water Sustainability Act.

How much does a Water Sustainability Act application cost and how long does it take?
There is no cost for submitting a Notification for Instream Works and applications are usually processed within 45 days.

What local government bylaws apply?
As each local government has different requirements, dock owners should check with their local government.

What does the ministry consider in reviewing applications?
The ministry reviews the application to ensure it meets the criteria specified in the General Permission and assesses the site for any site specific factors such as sensitive habitat or archaeological site. Ministry staff also assess non-conforming docks for the potential for them to be rebuilt to meet current standards. 

Given the number of docks affected by the flooding, what steps is the ministry taking to expedite approvals for rebuilding docks?
Ministry staff have been communicating with local dock builders to ensure they understand the legal requirements.

For dock owners who were required to submit notifications under section 9 of the Water Act or Section 11 of the Water Sustainability Act from Jan. 1, 2015, to present, their existing approval still stands, if a copy of their letter is submitted along with photos of the damaged dock and previously approved site plan identifying what is being repaired/replaced. In some instances, additional modifications may be required to bring non-conforming docks up to current standards.

Blanket Terms and Conditions will be issued upon application from Dock Builders to address minor repairs, such as replacing deck boards, however, docks located in critical Kokanee spawning habitat may require a move toward “flow through” decking when replacing decking in these instances.

Will illegal docks be allowed to be rebuilt?
Unauthorized or illegal docks will not be allowed to be rebuilt to the way they were. Existing non-conforming docks may be authorized if they meet the criteria set under a General Permission or Specific Permission. 

How will the ministry ensure that public access is maintained to the Crown foreshore?
One of the conditions of issuing a tenure for any Crown land use is that public access be maintained. Crown foreshore is the line where private land ends and Crown land begins.
Fences are prohibited and docks must provide and maintain public access. Non-compliance is subject to trespass action and removal under the Land Act.

People should report infractions to 1 877 952-RAPP (7277) or online: