Watercourse Development Permits

Watercourse Protection Development Permit areas are designated in the Official Community Plan to protect the natural environment.

No filling, alteration or damage to any watercourse, ditch or adjacent environmentally sensitive lands can occur in designated development permit areas unless the owner first obtains a Watercourse Development Permit (Watercourse DP) or an exemption from these requirements is confirmed by the City.

A Watercourse development permit is required for any activities that impact watercourses, including:

  • Subdivision,
  • Removal, alteration, disruption or destruction of land or vegetation or soil disturbance,
  • Construction of buildings, structures, roads, services or flood protection works,
  • Creation of non-structural impervious or semi-impervious surfaces (e.g. paving), or
  • Development of utility corridors or drainage systems.

Other application processes

Other application processes – such as Official Community Plan amendment, rezoning, subdivision, or Development Permit (form and character) applications – may run concurrently, but separate applications are required for each process.

About Watercourse Development Permits

The goal is to conserve and restore riparian and associated areas while recognizing that these areas provide public and private amenities such as trails and private yards.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) designates lands within 50 metres of watercourses as Development Permit Areas (DPAs). Watercourses include ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks, brooks, ditches, springs, wetlands, and surface drainage (whether containing water or not). The top of bank is generally defined as a break in the slope of land closest to the wetted area.

Development may occur within a Watercourse Protection DPA, but any alteration of land or development within the area is subject to review and a permit may be required. For most sites within 30 metres of a watercourse, a qualified professional must be engaged to determine the location of a watercourse, define the top of bank and confirm the extent of the Watercourse Protection Area. Refer to the Official Community Plan for more information.


Under the OCP Watercourse Protection DPA guidelines, a Watercourse DP may not be required in certain situations providing that the activities follow best management practices in or around watercourses. This may include reconstruction of a building or structure on the same footprint of a preexisting building or structure, or, in single residential and agricultural zones, development of a 4 meter wide pervious driveway.

Contact the Planning Division to confirm if your proposed development may qualify for an exemption. Confirmation may be required.

Get Started

Preliminary proposal

An owner may submit a preliminary proposal to the Planning Division to determine if a Watercourse DP is required, including:

  • Name and contact information of the applicant,
  • Written authority to submit the preliminary proposal from the property owner, if the applicant is not the owner,
  • Description of the proposed work and its potential impact on the watercourse and associated riparian area, and
  • Accurate dimensioned site map(s) to show:
    • Property and lot lines,
    • Location of the watercourse, top of bank and lands within 50 metres of the top of bank
    • Extent of area proposed for alteration, and
    • Siting of all existing and proposed buildings, structures, retaining walls, infrastructure, major vegetation, and impervious surfaces.

There is no charge for staff review of preliminary proposals.

Application Process

Submit a complete Watercourse Development Permit application including fees (see below).
The application should include an environmental study prepared by a qualified professional and contain all information required to comply with the guidelines set out in the Official Community Plan. Application requirements are outlined in the Development Procedures Bylaw.

Refer to the checklist attached to the permit application form for details about requirements. Staff are only able to accept complete applications.


There is no defined timeframe to obtain a decision in a Watercourse DP process. The time depends on the complexity of the policy issues, comprehensiveness of the application, time to respond to identified issues, public consultation process and timing of Committee meetings.

Fees, Charges, and Security/Deposit

All application fees are outlined in Schedule D of the Fees and Charges Bylaw.

There may be legal costs associated with your Watercourse DP application. Restrictive covenants, statutory right-of-ways or other legal agreements and documents may be required.

Watercourse Fee Schedule

Approval Process

The appointed Planning File Manager will circulate the application to other departments and any applicable outside agencies. The primary contact will be notified of any requests for further information or revisions. Enquiries about the status of the application review should be directed to the Planning File Manager.

If a development permit application does not comply with submission requirements or if additional information is required for its assessment, a written response from the Planning File Manager will be provided listing resubmission requirements.

Resubmissions which fully address all identified issues and information requirements will proceed in a timely manner through the application review process. All materials responding to resubmission requirements must be provided by the applicant in one comprehensive resubmission to the File Manager unless otherwise stipulated by the File Manager.

Ministry of Environment

The Provincial Ministry of Environment (MOE) requires the submission of a Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) assessment.  The City of Port Coquitlam will await confirmation from the MOE that it hasaccepted the RAR submission prior to proceeding to the SGC for a decision.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

The Fisheries Act requires that projects avoid causing serious harm to fish unless authorized by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This applies to work being conducted in or near waterbodies that support fish that are part of or that support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery.

Applicants should contact the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for further information on Department approvals.

Committee of Council

Once submission requirements are addressed, a staff report will be forwarded to the Committee of Council for consideration of the proposal. Council meetings meetings start at 2 pm and take place the first four Tuesdays of the month.

Permit Registration

If Council approves the watercourse development permit proposal, staff will prepare the watercourse development permit (WDP) and Notice of Permit for signatures and registration at the Land Titles Office. A lawyer or notary may register the signed notice of permit and WDP within one year of the date of approval.The Building Permit must be issued and the project substantially under construction within two years of the date of DP approval.

Landscape Security

Prior to issuing a building permit, the City requires a landscape security to ensure the project complies with the approved DP landscape drawings in a timely manner.  Please refer to the Landscape Plan Requirements for detailed guidelines.

The landscape security, typically a Letter of Credit, is equal to 110% of the landscape estimate provided by the applicant. This amount is defined in the development permit documents. Please note that if you are building a duplex the landscape security deposit is $5000, not 110% of the landscape estimate.

Upon completion of the landscaping, the applicant may request an inspection and will be refunded 100% of the deposit if the landscaping is found to be complete.


Planning Division
Tel 604.927.5442

Location and Mailing Address

City Hall Annex (Above the Bank of Montreal, 200-2564 Shaughnessy St, Port Coquitlam, BC, V3C 3G4

Business Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)