As the Thompson-Okanagan starts to recover from high water levels and spring flooding, provincial government staff are assisting local governments, businesses and residents with recovery efforts.
One key area of focus is the estimated 1,200 to 1,500 docks that may need repairing or replacing along the shores of Okanagan Lake. The ministry will be offering FrontCounter BC services in Kelowna and will have dedicated staff on its toll-free line to assist dock owners with the necessary approvals.
In the meantime, dock owners should become familiar with the Province’s legal requirements as outlined in the Water Sustainability Act and Land Act, in addition to meeting requirements set by local governments.
Water Sustainability Act and Regulation
Section 39(1) of the water sustainability regulation requires any works in about a stream, river or lake related to the construction, maintenance or removal of a dock to have a notification submitted for instream work to the Province for approval. To help expedite the process, terms and conditions specific to damage caused by this year’s high water have been set. Terms and conditions are also specific and have been standardized to each habitat sensitivity zone. Terms and conditions are usually returned to applicants within 45 days. All maintenance and rebuilding works will be required to go through this process.
More information is available by telephoning FrontCounter BC at 1 877 855-3222 or online:
The Province streamlined its private moorage policy in January to make administration of new and replacement docks easier for dock owners and government.
Dock owners can have their dock authorized under a “general permission” if:
- The dock owner is 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 Land Act “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.
More information on General Permissions is available online:
Property owners who want to build larger docks or docks in environmentally sensitive areas, or application only areas, must still go through a detailed application process. When making an application online, dock owners will be able to see whether their proposed dock falls into a special application zone. Link to online application and guidance:
Private moorage tenures require the tenure holder to maintain public access across Crown-owned foreshore. Crown foreshore is located below the line where private land ends and Crown land begins, and typically encompasses the beach and near shore waters. The boundary between private and Crown land is the normal high-water mark. Fences on Crown land foreshore are prohibited. Docks that do not maintain public access are subject to trespass action and removal under the Land Act.
People should report infractions to 1 877 952-RAPP (7277) or online: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/
A backgrounder follows.