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You’ve finally secured your very own slice of waterfront heaven on the shores of Okanagan Lake. With the seemingly endless water in front of you, you’re likely envisioning hot sunny days spent on your very own residential dock and boat. However, there’s lots to consider before you begin building your own personal oasis in dock form.

Here are five things to consider before building your new dock.

Okanagan Lake Docks built by Shoreline Pile Driving

#1: Find a professional dock builder

One of the first steps to take when it’s time to build a new wood or aluminum dock, is finding a reputable dock builder in the area. To help you find one that aligns with your values and the scope of work to be completed, we recommend asking your potential hire these five questions:

  • Do you take care of securing permits for building a residential dock in Kelowna?
  • How often will I need to service my new dock and boat lift?
  • Are there different dock types, and which one is best for Okanagan Lake?
  • How long will the dock last?
  • What if I buy a bigger boat? Will I need a new boat lift?

Once you’ve found a provider you can trust, the next steps will likely run much smoother.

Shoreline Assessment before building a dock on Okanagan Lake - Shoreline Pile Driving

#2: Have your shoreline assessed

There are certain restrictions attached to building on the shores of the lake that you’ll need to be aware of.

The new dock:

  • cannot obstruct public access to the foreshore
  • must adhere to Canadian Coast Guard and building regulations
  • must be the only dock on the property
  • must be insured

As the waterfront property owner, you’ll also need to have your property assessed to see which colour-coded category it falls into.

Colour Zone Categories

Colour Zone What it means How it affects you
Black Critical habitat value Permit will likely be denied
Red High value habitat Permit may take longer to approve
Yellow Moderate value habitat Permit will most likely be approved
No colour Low/unknown habitat value Permit will most likely be approved

Once a permit is approved, there may be a short window of opportunity for building, and the build will have to be scheduled within that timeframe.

Permitting for Residential dock builds

#3: Start the permitting process

Before you begin building any structures on the Okanagan Lake foreshore, you’ll need to obtain the correct permits, licenses, and leases.

Section 11 Application

All work to be completed in the water or on the shore requires a Section 11 application. It acts a notification to the Ministry of the Environment to let them know there will be work performed. This application is absolutely necessary and takes roughly 45 days to process.


Leases are great and typically last for a term of 20 years, but they come with an annual fee of $200 and the person applying for the lease must be over the age of 19. However, some homeowners may not need a lease and may meet the requirements and conditions of the General Permission.

Land Tenure Application

If you don’t have a lease, you may need to apply for a Crown Land Tenure. It’s important to note that this process can take up to 140 days to process so it’s really important to start this process well in advance of your targeted completion date for your new residential dock build.

Residential dock design - Shoreline Pile Driving

#4: You’ll need a dock design

Once you’ve got all the necessary information, requirements have been met, and permits have been taken care of, you’ll be ready to build. But first, you’ll need to design the dock. This exciting process is the perfect time to collaborate with your builder to ensure your vision meets the necessary land-related requirements.

#5: Environmental consultants may need to weigh in

Once the design has been finalized and you’ve happily approved it, it will likely need to go to an environmental consultant for an Environmental Impact Assessment, and/or Qualified Environmental Professional Checklist. These steps may be required in certain situations, and your builder can help guide you through the process.

Once all of these steps have been completed, it’s time to start your build and start making memories on the sunny shores of Okanagan Lake.