Development Permit Areas

The Issue

Bowen Island’s natural environment and certain aspects of the built environment are managed primarily through use of “development permits”.

The OCP contains a patchwork of varying Development Permit Areas (DPAs) whose regulations have not been updated to include the new powers that have been granted by the Province for such permit areas.

Environmental Protection DPAs

The Issue

Protection of the natural environment on Bowen Island is exercised through the following Development Permit Areas (DPAs). Each of the existing DPAs has proved to be inadequate, containing omissions and inconsistencies, and lacking the full authority granted to such areas under provincial legislation.

In addition, the municipality has a draft comprehensive environmental protection bylaw that has never been approved.


1) Watershed and Stream Development Permit Area

A small waterfall in an island forest

Development Permit Section 6 of the OCP makes clear that “no land within the designated area shall be subdivided or altered…unless the owner first obtains a development permit”.

However, a recent report by the Bylaw Services Officer (Oct. 19, 2009), reveals that most Watershed and Stream DP applications occur only when the landowner is also applying for a building permit. Obviously, the current practice excludes the fact that landowners may cause significant environmental damage by “land alteration” at other times than when they are applying for a building permit. Landowners within Watershed and Stream DP areas are supposed to obtain an environmental development permit before any significant land alteration occurs, but this is not enforced.

2) Cape Roger Curtis and Cowan Point Development Permit Areas

A view of the ocean from the delicate bluff ecosystem of Cape Roger Curtis
Cape Roger Curtis and Cowan Point are regulated by separate DPAs with separate standards. Neither of these DPAs are consistent with best management practices. A development permit for subdivision approval at CRC was granted by the municipality in November, 2009.

3) Development Permit Area for Hazardous Slopes

The DPA for Hazardous Slopes was rescinded in 2002, and has not been reinstated with new mapping. The absence of such a bylaw puts the municipality at risk of liability for land slides, as has occurred on the North Shore.

4) A Draft Comprehensive Environmentally Sensitive Areas DPA

Bluffs overlooking the ocean at Cape Roger Curtis
Bowen Island’s natural environment is protected primarily through the Watershed and Streams DPA system, discussed above. This DPA system, established in the early 1990s, restricts its application to protecting only water quality and potential fisheries values. Since that time, the Province has broadened extensively the permissible application of DPAs to protect the natural environment. The resulting situation is that Bowen’s main legislative tool to protect the island’s environment is sadly out of date, and is not, in any case, being properly enforced.

In 2007, the municipal council of the day made considerable progress in creating a new comprehensive DPA system that would protect a full range of environmentally sensitive ecosystems and habitats. The proposed bylaw utilized new ecosystem mapping that has been completed in cooperation between the Islands Trust and the BC Conservation Data Centre. The initiative faltered however, and the bylaw has never been approved. The text of this Environmentally Sensitive Areas Development Permit Area bylaw, is still on the municipality’s website at (See Draft Bylaws; Bylaw #198, 2007).


  • A definition of “land alteration” that ensures pro-active protection of the environment needs to be added to the OCP.
  • The DPA Guidelines for Environmental Protection that were transferred from the OCP to the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) through Bylaw #56 in 2002, need to be restored to the OCP.
  • The Guidelines for all environmental DPA areas need to be updated to include explicit tree retention requirements; measures for fines and remediation; and other new authority over land use to reduce greenhouse gas, that was granted to DPAs in Bill 27, by the provincial government in 2008. (See Greenhouse Gas Reduction).
  • A separate bylaw for tree retention and planting should include the CRC development to protect the land’s precious ecological values and to reduce greenhouse gas by carbon capture through forestation. (See Greenhouse Gas Reduction; and see Cape Roger Curtis.
  • Completion of the draft comprehensive Environmentally Sensitive Areas DPA should be a priority for the new OCP and for the current Council’s municipal agenda.
  • The updated OCP should establish a Development Approval Information (DAI) bylaw that applies to all DPAs, to require when necessary a report by the applicant on issues relevant to issuance of the permit.

Built Environment DPAs

The Issue

Despite the fact that development in Snug Cove Village is administered by the following DPAs, the natural ambiance, and the quality of landscaping and character of the built environment have all been deteriorating.


1) Village Revitalization Development Permit Area

Since the 1980’s, development in Snug Cove has been regulated by a Village Revitalization DPA to ensure that the form and character of the village is consistent with certain architectural and landscaping guidelines. This permit system is overseen by a Design Panel, appointed by municipal council.

These architectural guidelines encourage an Arts and Craft era pattern of building design. However, the Design Panel usually becomes involved only when a building permit is applied for, and then to consider the building exterior. There is no comprehensive landscape plan for the Cove. The continuing loss of greenery and the haphazard parking arrangements in the Cove are a direct result of the municipality’s failure to produce and to enforce a comprehensive landscape and land use plan.

The Arts and Craft movement was a revolt against mechanization and mass production; the movement was a return to the beauty of individual handcraft. (See Snug Cove Village Plan; and Rural Character and Building Form).

2) Village Periphery Development Permit Area

The Village Periphery DPA for Snug Cove is to protect “the existing landscape that should be maintained to enhance the surrounding park, recreation, institutional, single family residential and village commercial uses”.


  • The design guidelines that are used by the Design Panel should be updated and added to the OCP, with a new emphasis on local building materials and island produced art and design.
  • The OCP should grant the Design Panel pro-active authority to plan for the form and character of both the natural and built environments in Snug Cove and other clearly defined future village areas.
  • The Village Periphery DP area should be extended in the OCP map, to encompass the Snug Point neighbourhood to protect that peninsula’s large trees, which together with Crippen Park’s Dorman Point, form the forested entrance to Bowen Island.