Land use - private moorage
The construction, placement and use of private moorage facilities on Crown land require authorization from the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Private moorage facilities include docks, boat ways/ramps or boat lifts that are used for private residential use.
On this page:
- General permission
- Foreshore and aquatic Crown land ownership in British Columbia
- Requirements for all docks
- Further reading
Land Act authorization of existing or new docks can be provided through granting of a tenure which requires an application (see below under ‘Applications’), or in some cases may be provided by way of a General Permission (described below).
Note that other legal requirements (i.e. provincial, federal and local government) may also be applicable to the construction, placement and use of private moorage facilities. Those wanting to construct a dock should contact their local government (municipality, township, regional district, etc) to determine if there are any additional legal requirements that must be met. Non-compliance with local government bylaws and zoning will result in the dock not being eligible for a Land Act authorization. Further information on federal and provincial requirements is provided through some of the links and processes described below.
A General Permission may be granted for ocean, lake and river docks located on aquatic Crown land. As long as a person constructs and uses their dock in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the General Permission (see link below) they will be deemed authorized. A Crown land application is not required.
If, the proposed dock or an existing dock does not meet the conditions and requirements stated in the General Permission, an application for a Specific Permission (or possibly a lease) will be required to be submitted to the Authorizing Agency before the dock can be authorized.
The General Permission document can be downloaded from this link: General Permission to Use Crown Land for a Private Moorage Dock (PDF, 116KB)
Supporting information is available in the General Permission Checklist and Interpretive Guide (PDF, 296KB).
Note that General Permissions are not granted within designated ‘Application-Only Areas’ (see below under the heading “Application-Only Areas”).
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.
It is important to remember that all private moorage facilities must not obstruct public access along the foreshore. Moorage facilities must comply with Canadian Coast Guard regulations and building regulations.
The following is prohibited:
- Any use of structures for non-moorage purposes
- Fill below the present natural boundary
- Dredging on the foreshore
- Any solid core structures or cribs
Only one dock per property is permitted. Proof of Insurance will also be required by the upland owner either through a Homeowner's Insurance policy or some equivalent instrument.
For more information see below, or contact FrontCounter BC to verify which form of Crown land authorization is appropriate and if any other approvals are required.
Application for specific permission
A Specific Permission must be applied for if the dock or moorage facility is to be located where general permissions are prohibited, as well as where:
- The dock does not adhere to any one of the requirements of the General Permission
- The proposal is for a stand-alone boat lifts or a permanent way or boat ramp
- The proposal Is for group moorage as described in the operational policy Land Use Operational Policy - Private Moorage (PDF, 384KB)
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 will be required.
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 may be issued where the applicant is intending to make a substantial investment and where it is important to know the exact location of the tenure boundary to avoid interference with other authorized users in the area. 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. Additional costs may be incurred by the applicant to obtain additional insurance.
In addition to reading the information on this webpage, the following documents should be reviewed prior to submitting your application:
- Land Use Operational Policy - Private Moorage (PDF, 384KB)
- Sample Site Maps
- Private Moorage - Marine Q's and A's
- Natural Resource Sector Online Service Guidance
The following documents must be provided as part of an application for a specific permission or lease:
Complete Application Package which includes:
- Crown Land Application Form
- Private Moorage Requirements List/Management Plan, either:
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, refer to the Application-Only Area Maps below for some regions, refer to the General Permission Checklist and Interpretive Guide (PDF, 296KB) for any other region.
- West Coast Region (Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands) (PDF, 779KB)
- The West Coast Region has established a “partial” Application-only Area which is only applicable to new docks; i.e. owners of any proposed (not yet constructed) docks are required to submit an application before they become authorized. An existing dock that already has an authorization in place, that is set to expire, will be granted a General Permission if it satisfies the specified requirements
- West Coast Region (Sooke Basin) (PDF, 2.5MB)
- South Coast Region (Mainland) (PDF, 553KB)
For further reading and reference, consult the following guides:
Provincial and federal regulatory jurisdictions
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region Operational Statements
- Working Around Water (BC Water Sustainability Act)
- Transport Canada, Works on navigable waters in Canada
Frequently asked questions
- Consult the Frequently Asked Questions webpage