Municipal, Planning & Environmental Law

Our Municipal, Planning & Environmental Group regularly represents developers, municipalities and private, public and Crown corporations on a broad range of complex development projects, infrastructure expansions and expropriations, municipal finance, and regulatory matters. Our Municipal Planning lawyers appear before the courts and numerous administrative tribunals, including the Ontario Land Tribunal. We are ranked by Chambers Canada (Zoning/Land Use: Ontario), as a leading Municipal Planning Law Firm, with one client noting: “We hold them in the highest regard. For what we go to them for, there’s no one else in their league in Toronto.”


We advise on all aspects of business licensing; draft, interpret and challenge municipal by-laws, including by-law enforcement; advise on municipal restructuring and amalgamations; and both initiate and oppose judicial review applications. We also provide advice and representation to land owners and expropriating authorities on all aspects of the expropriation process.

We represent private developers, municipalities and chief building officials on all matters under the Building Code Act, act for landowners and municipalities on appeals under the Development Charges Act, and negotiate cost sharing, front-ending and development charge credit agreements.

We have acted for:

  • A municipality in the negotiation of complex development and front-ending agreements with land-owner groups to advance infrastructure expansion
  • A crown agency in the establishment and diversion of public roads to facilitate infrastructure and transit expansion
  • Municipal clerks on election process and irregularities
  • A municipality in securing an injunction to restrain violations of its by-laws, including fill and zoning by-laws
  • A national retail chain in expropriation matters across Ontario
  • A municipality before the Court of Appeal in securing title to a public park pursuant to historic development agreements and common law principles of dedication and assumption
  • A production event company in a landmark municipal law decision overturning a by-law that had prohibited entertainment involving exotic animals
  • A large Ontario municipality in challenges to its sign by-law
  • A southern Ontario regional municipality in successfully defending a by-law that regulated smoking in workplaces and public areas, before the Ontario Court of Appeal


Our planning lawyers have demonstrated expertise in all areas of development law, working for both public institutions and private enterprises in all aspects of the development process. We have represented clients at all levels of the court system, as well as a range of administrative tribunals with particular emphasis on the Ontario Land Tribunal (formerly the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) (OLT).

Examples of our work in this area includes:

  • Acting for a joint venture entity in obtaining approvals (official plan amendment, zoning amendment and two plans of subdivision) for the redevelopment of the York Downs Golf Club in Markham, a new mixed-use community including over 2250 residential units
  • Acting for a prominent developer in the development of Langstaff Gateway, a Gateway Urban Growth Centre planned to be the highest density development in Markham
  • Acting for the University of Toronto, the largest university in Canada with three campuses across the GTA, in obtaining all development approvals, including the approval of master plans, campus secondary plans, and site and area specific zoning for some of the City’s most prominent institutional buildings
  • Acting for a high rise developer in obtaining approvals before the LPAT for mixed-use condominium projects, including rental replacement, heritage conservation and the negotiation of s. 37 benefits
  • Acting for a major developer in seeking development approvals (rezoning and site plan applications pending) in North York for a high-rise development including significant rental replacement, publicly accessible open space and on-site daycare
  • Acting for a municipality in successfully defending multiple appeals of its heritage conservation district by-law
  • Acting for Infrastructure Ontario and its predecessor, Ontario Realty Corporation, in connection with the development of a new mixed-use community on a 9.6-acre provincially owned site in the West Don Lands, Toronto. This infrastructure development project had stagnated for years as a result of former industrial use of the lands
  • Acting for a major developer in preparing development applications for approval of multiple high-rise buildings in Markham City Centre
  • Acting for Infrastructure Ontario in connection with the development of the Provincial Campus at Downsview, including development approvals for the Humber River Hospital
  • Acting for a group of land developers on an employment land conversion project in the Greater Golden Horseshoe
  • Acting on behalf of a consortium of developers in the development and construction of Canada’s largest film studio complex, in co-operation with the City of Toronto and Toronto Economic Development Corporation
  • Acting for national commercial entities in obtaining development approvals across Ontario, including ‘big box’ retail and restaurant chains


Our environmental law lawyers provide advice and representation on all aspects of environmental law, including the purchase, sale, development and decommissioning of property; landfill site selection; spill clean-up; and product regulation, including the import and transport of dangerous goods. Our environmental lawyers provide representation in the defence of environmental matters, including quasi-criminal environmental prosecutions by regulatory authorities.

We assist clients with obtaining/amending all required Environmental Compliance Approvals, including Records of Site Condition, and in liaising with the Ministry of the Environment, to facilitate redevelopment. We also represent clients in environmental appeals, actions involving environmental liability and (Class) Environmental Assessments. Our corporate clients rely on our environmental law lawyers for advice on environmental issues in commercial transactions, such as the management of environmental risks, corporate governance, regulatory compliance, real property realizations and bankruptcies.

We have acted for:

  • The University of Toronto, in partnership with the City of Toronto, in the remediation of the former Morningside Landfill for the development of a regional aquatics facility in support of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games
  • An international soft drink company to ensure regulatory compliance of its manufacturing and warehouse distribution network across Canada
  • An energy company in obtaining approvals for the development of a 325-hectare “energy park” with renewable (wind and solar) and non-renewable (liquid fuels storage and transportation) components
  • A U.S. chemical distribution company in establishing a Canadian company for the import of dangerous goods into Canada
  • The State Environmental Protection Administration (now the Ministry of Environmental Protection) of the Government of China in advising on Ontario’s environmental laws to assist that ministry in preparing environmental regulations for China
  • A waste transfer and recycling facility in all aspects of the approvals process including defending existing approvals, obtaining new approvals, and defending charges arising from allegations of wrong doing
  • Land developers and landowners to bring claims or defend against claims due to contaminated groundwater and soils