Land Use - Private Moorage

Foreshore is the land between the high and low watermarks of streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Aquatic Crown land is all the land, including the foreshore, from the high water mark out to the limits of provincial jurisdiction.

This includes all submerged land between the mainland to the east and Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii to the west, as well as all submerged land within bays on the west coasts of these islands.

In British Columbia, the Province owns nearly all freshwater and saltwater foreshore. Land adjacent to foreshore may be privately owned, but in common law the public retains the privilege or "bare licence" to access the foreshore.

Requirements for All Docks

It is important to remember that all private moorage facilities must not obstruct either public access along the foreshore. Moorage facilities must comply with Canadian Coast Guard regulations, local government zoning and building regulations.

Any use of structures for non-moorage purposes, fill below the present natural boundary, dredging on the foreshore, and any solid core structures or cribs are prohibited. Only one dock per property is permitted.

  • Always contact FrontCounter BC. You must verify which permission qualifies and if any other approvals are required. Or visit FrontCounterBC to find your local office.

For more details, see the Private Moorage Requirements and Best Management Practices (PDF)

General Permission to Use Foreshore or Aquatic Land for Private Moorage

Individuals cannot build on or develop aquatic Crown land, including Crown foreshore, without the province's authorization, even if they own adjacent property or "upland". However, a conditional general permission may be in place for small dock use of aquatic Crown land on some lakes and river areas.

Consult the Private Moorage Requirements and Best Management Practices (PDF) for more information, or contact FrontCounter BC, toll free at 1-877-855-3222. Visit FrontCounterBC to find your local office.

Application for Specific Permission

A Specific Permission must be applied for if the dock or moorage facility where general permissions are prohibited and on all marine waters, as well as where the dock:

  • Is located on a lake or river and the dock is over 24m2.
  • Is located on a lake or river and the dock does not adhere to any of the requirements of the general permission.
  • Includes boat lift structures unattached to a dock or in the absence of an associated dock, or a permanent way or boat ramp.
  • Is for group moorage if there are up to 3 berths.

A one-time $250 application fee is required for all Specific Permissions. If the applicant of the proposed dock is not the upland owner, written consent of the upland owner and Specific Permission will be required. For more details, see the Private Moorage Requirements and Best Management Practices (PDF).

Application for Lease

The Province of British Columbia (the Province) may issue a lease for private moorage facilities for residential and recreational users.

A lease is normally issued where the applicant is intending to make a substantial investment and where variances are required for any of the above conditions. The normal term for a lease is 20 years.

To apply for a tenure, an applicant must be 19 years of age or older. There is a $200 annual fee for a lease; a larger annual lease fee applies if the lease area exceeds 2000 square meters; and the cost of securing a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance and providing proof of that insurance.

Application Documents

In addition to reading the information on this webpage, the following documents should be reviewed prior to submitting your application:

The following documents must be completed prior to submitting your application:

Obtaining Upland Owner Consent

In most circumstances, private moorage applicants, who do not own or do not hold a tenure on the adjacent upland, are required to obtain a written consent from the upland owner.

The applicant must provide a management plan showing:

  • location of foreshore to be used;
  • size and position of existing or proposed improvements; and,
  • identification of construction materials to be used.

Application Only Areas

Some local areas may prohibit General Permissions and require application for Specific Permission or lease, for reasons of environmental sensitivity or other concerns. To find out if your project is located in an Application-Only Area, contact FrontCounter BC toll free at 1-877-855-3222 or visit FrontCounterBC to find your local office.

Provincial and Federal Regulatory Jurisdictions

Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary of Private Moorage Terms

Consulting with First Nations

Consultation with First Nations is an important part of land and resource decision-making.

Find out more about this process.

FrontCounter BC

Useful Contacts

Contact us if you would like more information on Crown land use.

For questions regarding specific files or a proposal about a specific area, please contact FrontCounter BC (see contact info above)

Telephone: 250 387-6730
Fax: 250 356-6791
4th Fl - 780 Blanshard St Victoria, BC V8W 2H1
Land Tenures Branch PO Box 9352 Stn Prov Govt Victoria, BC V8W 9N1
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