Building & Renovating

Planning inquiries and applications are now online

We're receiving a higher than normal amount of development applications, resulting in  processing times of four to six months. Read more

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 & Development 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 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
  • Build moorage facilities (docks, boat ways/ramps, boat lifts)
  • Install a swimming pool
  • Build a retaining wall 1.5m (5ft) or higher
  • Install or alter plumbing or electrical systems
  • Move a building to Bowen Island
  • Install of a sea-can or other temporary building
  • Excavate a lot prior to issuance of a building permit (NEW Excavation Permit Application)
  • Build forms or pour foundation prior to issuance of a building permit application form (NEW Foundation Permit Application Form)
  • Bring an existing secondary suite into complance application form (NEW Existing Secondary Suite Permit Application Form)

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

Planning and Building reviews are prioritized by the date that a complete application is received by the Planning and Development Department. Due to the volume of building permit applications received current processing time is  4 - 6 months.

Please use and submit the current application form, see link below:

All applications are to be submitted in pdf format to Attachments are limited to 10 MB.  Submit hard copies of schedules and drawings to Municipal Hall when requested to do so.

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.

Apply for an Excavation Permit (NEW)

Excavation is included in a Building Permit. If you would like to excavate your lot PRIOR to obtaining a Building Permit, an Excavation Permit is required.

Apply for a Foundation Permit (NEW)

Foundations are included in a Building Permit.  In some circumstances when a Building Permit is delayed, you may qualify to obtain a Foundation Permit. All Planning and Building reviews must be completed before a Foundation Permit can be issued. Please check with the Planning and Development Department before submitting an application.

Apply to permit an existing secondary suite

Secondary Suites have been permitted in most zones on Bowen Island since 2008. At that time, many homes already had non-permitted suites. A short form Building Permit application is available to obtain Completion/Occupancy Certificate for these previously non-permitted suites.

This certification may be required for some property sales or for a Business Licence for any business activity taking place in the suite.

In order to bring a secondary suite into compliance the following items will be inspected and may require certification from a qualified professional:

  • Fire separation of walls, floor and connecting doors.
  • Smoke and carbon dioxide alarms interconnected to main part of house.
  • Mechanical ventilation.
  • Heating system and control from suite.
  • Egress windows from bedroom, door from suite and safe path to street.
  • Safety for decks, stairs, guardrails and handrails.
  • Substantial compliance of BC Plumbing Code.
  • Substantial compliance to BC Electrical Code.


Building Permit fees to permit an existing secondary will be a minimum of $180.00. This is based on a minimum construction value of $20,000.

If your existing non-permitted suite is detached from the primary dwelling a different process is necessary, please send an email to for more information.

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 email the to book your inspection at least 24 hours before your requested date of inspection. Include: Owner or agent name and phone number, project address, type of inspection and permit #. Either a Building Clerk or the Building Inspector will reply to confirm the date that your inspection will be scheduled.

Currently inspections are conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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 2021-09-07 at 3:46 PM