Municipal law encompasses legal services relating to the function of local government.

It includes the practice of law relating to all aspects of the Municipal Act, 2001/City of Toronto Act, 2006 and other local and Provincial legislation and policies that impact the operation and activities of municipalities and those affected by the exercise of their powers. Our municipal practice involves land use planning and development law relating to the use, acquisition, development, and protection of land. 

We are experienced advocates before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB), Committee of Adjustments, Superior Court of Justice and Divisional Court on a variety of municipal law matters in Toronto and the GTA, Waterloo Region and throughout Southwestern Ontario

Our lawyers advise and give opinions on a variety of general municipal law issues, including:

  • Expropriation compensation claims
  • Development applications
  • Land use planning appeals
  • Acquisitions and dispositions of land
  • Conveyances and severances of land 
  • Minor variances 
  • Development and subdivision agreements 
  • Municipal taxation
  • Heritage matters
  • Aggregate resources
  • By-law enforcement defence
  • Development charges
  • Building permit matters
  • Judicial review of municipal decisions and by-laws

Expropriation

We act for land and business owners in expropriation claims regarding full or partial takings, injurious affection, business losses and disturbance damages.

As the Supreme Court of Canada has importantly noted in the Dell Holdings case, expropriation of land is one of the ultimate exercises of governmental authority. The lawyers at Unified LLP work hard to protect the rights of property owners and to seek full compensation for their land. 

The Section 25 offer that the expropriating authority must provide to owners rarely captures the full extent of the compensation an owner is entitled to under the Expropriations Act. Unified LLP will explore every avenue of compensation and work with you to assemble a team of experienced land use planners, real estate appraisers, business loss valuators and other necessary experts to advance the strongest compensation claim. We will advance matters all the way to a hearing before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal when a fair settlement cannot be negotiated with the expropriating authority. 

Property owners often do not know that the expropriating authority is usually obligated to pay for reasonable legal, appraisal and other professional costs when land is being expropriated; your legal and professional fees are usually paid by the authority once your compensation claim has been settled. 

We assist landowners, business owners and tenants with expropriation matters related to:

  • Full or partial takings of land
  • Negotiating possession and compensation
  • Injurious affection 
  • Disturbance damages 
  • Section 30 agreements 
  • Negotiations and arbitrations
  • Challenging the decision to expropriate (Hearing of Necessity)
  • Assisting with the retention of experts such as, land use planners, real estate appraisers and business loss valuators    

Development Applications and Land Use Planning Appeals 

Unified LLP advises landowners and developers throughout the development application process through to site plan approval and the issuance of a building permit.

Our advice starts with a review of the development objective within the applicable municipal scheme, including an analysis of the Official Plan, Zoning By-Law, and any secondary or area-specific plans. We work with clients to hire a registered land use planner to review the proposed project and to provide a planning justification report. 

The second major phase is the pre-consultation phase where development goals are discussed with municipal staff and possible problems and roadblocks are identified by municipal staff which we work to resolve and negotiate. Resolving any problems that emerge in the pre-consultation phase is critical for the success of a development application because municipal staff will issue a formal opinion to Council or Committee of Adjustment on the merits of the development. The final phase is the issuance of the final application and to make submissions to the Committee of Adjustment or municipal Council deciding the matter and to participate in the public process. 

If a development application is rejected by a municipality or approved by the municipality but appealed by another party, we have successfully advocated for our clients at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and can assist our clients through the land development process with appeals relating to official plans, zoning by-laws and the re-zoning of lands, plans of subdivision and severances, site plans and minor variances. We have acted for developers of multi-use properties and owners of vacant residential and farmlands to reach their development goals.

We have extensive experience identifying and building the appropriate expert witness teams necessary to advance your development project and appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.