Building & Renovating

Planning inquiries and applications are now online

In addition to any required development approvals, a Building Permit may be needed to ensure buildings are safe for their intended purpose.  Building policies and bylaws must be followed during the building process.  A number of inspections must be passed before an Occupancy Certificate or Letter of Completion is issued.

New Building Bylaw

Bowen Island Municipality has adopted a new Building Bylaw No. 489, 2019 to replace the old Building Bylaw from 2002. In addition to including Step Code Requirements, the bylaw includes updates in line with recent updates to the BC Building Code, provide clarity on matters such as temporary buildings, security deposits, and fire access requirements. Read the staff report.

Are you planning to start building or renovating?

Check with the Planning Department to make sure you have all the necessary approvals and permits for your proposed development before you start any work.

All new construction and substantial renovations on Bowen will need to meet Step One of the BC Energy Step Code.

Building Bylaws & Policies

Building and renovations are regulated by the Building Bylaw.  This bylaw includes regulations for construction, alteration, repair and demolition of buildings and structures.  Development regulations, such as building setbacks and height, are under the Land Use Bylaw.

Additional policies that may be applicable to your building process are the Heron Policy and the Green Building Standards Policy.

Building Permits

You will need a Building Permit (BP) to:

  • Build a new structure or building
  • Demolish, alter or add to a structure
  • Build an accessory building greater than 10 m2 (107 ft2) in area
  • Build a deck more than 600 mm (2ft) above grade
  • Install a swimming pool
  • Build a retaining wall 1.5m (5ft) or higher
  • Install or alter plumbing or electrical systems

Day-to-day repairs and maintenance, and renovations that do not involve structural alterations do not require a Building Permit.

A Building Permit may expire if work is not started within 12 months from the date it was issued, or if work has stopped for 12 months or more.

Apply for a Building Permit

All applications are to be submitted in pfd format to Due to the volume of building permit applications received current processing time is 3 – 4 months.

As of January 15, 2020, Bowen Island Municipality, on behalf of Translink, is required to collect the Regional Transportation DCC for all building permits issued and subdivisions approved on Bowen Island.

Building Inspections

Before starting any building work, discuss your project with the Building Inspector and identify the inspections that will be needed.  It is the responsibility of the property owner or their agent to schedule the required inspections.

An Occupancy Certificate is issued after completion of new residences and buildings. A Letter of Completion is issued after all other work is done under a building permit.  Deposits will be returned after an Occupancy Certificate or Letter of Completion has been issued.

Upon completing a demolition, the Municipality will notify BC Assessment so that you will not be taxed for the improvement on your next tax bill.

Schedule an inspection

Please contact the Building and Planning Clerk to book your inspection. 

View the Building Inspector's schedule

Building in Resilience

Bowen Island Municipality encourages residents to ‘build-in preparedness’ for emergencies and disasters. In addition to the risk of a major earthquake on the west coast, Bowen Island has historically experienced regular, extended power outages during winter months, and it makes sense to prepare your house when you are building or renovating. When building or renovating, please consider alternate sources of water, energy and heat.


  • Consider installing cisterns for water storage.
  • Consider installing a back-up power supply for your well pump if a well is your only source of water.
  • Consider installing a rainwater catchment system: check out this handy guide from the Regional District of Nanaimo on best practices for rainwater harvesting.
  • Consider water conservation in any design and purchasing decisions. This could be as simple as low flow toilets or as complex as grey water reuse systems for gardens.


  • If using electric heat, consider a heat pump as it can be up to 300% more efficient and therefore requires a much smaller generator to continue to provide heat in a power outage. You’ll also be eligible for up to $3000 in rebates from BC Hydro.
  • Renovating? Don’t tear out that wood stove just yet! Consider sources of heat other than electric when building including propane and wood burning fireplaces.


  • Check out the Natural Resources Canada Solar Ready Guidelines to find out more about how to easily build your home solar ready at minimal cost.
  • No budget for a generator at this time? Consider installing a transfer switch at construction, to allow for easy generator hook up in future.
  • Take a look at what’s out there in terms of alternative battery technology.
  • Help your budget go further with BC Hydro home renovation rebates and look into the merits of having a home energy audit conducted before renovating.

Consider energy efficient design in all builds and upgrades: in many cases, materials and technologies that enhance a building’s energy efficiency can also make the building more durable, resistant and resilient to threats posed by natural disasters. As well, resilience will enable a faster, more effective recovery post-disaster, allowing individuals and the community to get back on our feet sooner after an event.

FireSmart practices reduce the risk of a wildfire destroying your home. It’s easy to incorporate small and simple FireSmart principles and practices when building, renovating or landscaping. Consider using noncombustible siding materials, for example, and avoid planting highly flammable plants near your home.

Last Updated on 2020-10-02 at 3:56 PM