Real Estate Development / Environmental Law / Expropriation Law / Real Estate Agreements / Real Property Municipal Assessment and Taxation / Tax Law / Wills & Estate Law / Employment & Labour Law / Civil Litigation
REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT We are experienced in acting for municipalities, statutory agencies, developers and landowners. We have specialized experience in subcategories such as the Building Code, land use legislation, official plans and zoning by-laws, site plans, plans of subdivision, and condominium law. Advanced understanding of hydrogeology, geotechnical studies, storm water management, civil engineering, traffic engineering, land use economics, demographics, retail impact and market studies, allow us to comprehensively understand and assess all land use issues. We have long been involved in municipal finance initiatives and in particular, the numerous challenges to municipal Development Charges.
Some municipalities have attempted to circumvent such legislation with the creation of a “Municipal Charge” under the Municipal Act. Mr. Petch initiated an application before the Superior Court challenging the legality of such which was resolved without a hearing. For developers and homebuilders, we are fully cognizant of recent changes in provincial legislation, Policy Statements, Growth Plans, requiring increased densities, improved civil engineering solutions to reduced road widths and servicing trenches, energy efficient developments and housing. Mr. Petch and Mr. Cheeseman worked with a small group of other leading members of the Municipal Bar in meetings with representatives of the former Premier’s Office and senior staff of the Attorney General and Ministry of Municipal Affairs to seek amendments to Bill 139, which abolished the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), replacing it with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Our specialized skills and experience allow us to act at all stages of the approval process, starting with the initial approval stages before the municipal committees and Council, through the entire appeal process before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and related boards, mediation tribunals, appeals to the Divisional Court and Superior Courts, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW Environmental considerations are now fundamental to most applications for land use approval. Accordingly, it is important that we as lawyers have a working understanding on geology, hydrogeology, geotechnical assessments, environmental assessments, biology, storm water management, and civil engineering. Recent provincial legislation and initiatives create new and difficult challenges. Greenbelt and Growth Plan legislation, restrictions on private servicing techniques, and ongoing provincial assimilation capacities of watersheds located outside the GTA place great hurdles for new Greenfield developments. Our experience with Brownfield development demonstrates that it is only for the experienced developer. Intensification and infilling are attractive principles and objectives. However, realistic implementation of those objectives is severely lacking at the provincial government level. Finding possible locations is difficult enough. Developing an approval strategy and obtaining approvals requires the utmost of experience and skills involving a team effort by the client, consultants and lawyer. Our experience with environmental legislation and litigation has also prepared us to provide Counsel for either the prosecution or the defense in environmental prosecutions.
Recent initiatives by the Premier to use Minister's Zoning Orders is a unique legal challenge which Mr. Petch has been actively involved in.
EXPROPRIATION LAW Contested expropriation cases occur far less frequently than was the case 10-15 years ago. For the expropriating authority, it is far too risky to proceed through the entire appeal process because an award under all headings of damages may exceed the value of the land. Accordingly, it is important to retain Counsel at the earliest stage in the proceedings to resolve land value, and if necessary, business interruption/relocation and injurious affection cost issues.
REAL ESTATE AGREEMENTS We have experience in many types of transactions, including subdivision agreements, site-plan agreements, front-ending agreements (Development Charges Act), developer cost-sharing agreements, restrictive covenants, joint-venture agreements, financing and security agreements, and memorandums of understanding. Let us work with you to create concise and practical documents that will implement your business objectives.
REAL PROPERTY MUNICIPAL ASSESSMENT & TAXATION With the downloading of municipal costs and services by provincial and federal governments, the ability of municipal governments to maintain and provide such services, has had a dramatic negative effect on all types of landowners and businesses. The substantial assessment increases by MPAC, the provincial corporation created to establish assessments, created hardship at all levels of the community. Significant social and business decisions were affected. The theory of Market Value Assessment is a troubling issue. In early 2007, the Province released general statements regarding the new assessment policies. They related more to phasing in the increased assessments and increased tax payments rather than dealing with the more fundamental issue of how assessments are calculated. The present system of market value has created widely inflated tax increases unrelated to municipal services. What was hoped for was a more stabilized system, such as one that might be tied to fixed rate increases or inflation rates, rather than artificially inflated real estate prices. This is a consistently evolving problem with ongoing difficulties created by provincial and municipal deficits. Let us provide you with practical assistance to address your needs.
TAX LAW / WILLS & ESTATES Many of our clients and their families have needs in the areas of tax law, wills and estates. MLC lawyer Milo Prelevic is highly skilled in these areas, and provides this expertise to our clients.
EMPLOYMENT & LABOUR LAW MLC lawyer Rishi Bandhu brings his expertise with employment and labour law, which complements the services we offer to home builders, land developers, municipalities and provincial government agencies. Employment and labour law includes a wide range of issues in the employee–employer relationship, including but not limited to Ontario Labour Relations Board proceedings, Employment Standards Act compliance, collective bargaining, compensation administration, employee benefits, wrongful/constructive dismissal, terminations with and without cause, employee management, union certifications, and grievances and arbitrations.
CIVIL LITIGATION We believe that the best civil litigator for our clients is one who has the combined specialty of both municipal law and civil litigation. With our team of specialists, we provide comprehensive skills and expertise necessary to litigate any of the above areas of law. We also believe when giving advice and drafting documents, it is important that the lawyer have a second nature skill to anticipate those areas where litigation risks exist and to protect the client accordingly.