Stikeman Elliott
Real Estate & Environment

Stikeman Elliott's Environmental Group is widely recognized as one of the leading environmental practices in Canada. Members of the group provide experienced, strategic and innovative advice on the full spectrum of environmental legal issues, including most notably: business transactions; property development and brownfields; civil, regulatory and administrative law matters; and litigation and dispute resolution.

Our environmental lawyers represent an international and national client base, including manufacturers, mining companies, real property owners, landlords, tenants, investors, lenders, retailers, public authorities and environmental consultants. Our industry expertise is varied and broad, and includes steel, construction, pulp and paper, chemical, mining, petroleum refining and distribution, waste management and transportation.

Given the overlap between environmental and health and safety issues, the Environmental Group also provides advice on all matters related to health and safety, including policies and procedures, duties and responsibilities of employers, officers and supervisors and responses to alleged regulatory violations and charges pursuant to applicable legislation.

Stikeman Elliott offers a broad range of environmental services, including:

  • Environmental aspects of all types of business transactions;

  • Litigation before boards, review panels and all levels of tribunals and courts, including federal and provincial environmental assessment reviews;

  • Licences, approvals, permits and compliance issues;

  • Contamination and remediation;

  • Lender liability, insolvency and associated environmental risks;

  • Occupational health and safety policies and procedures;

  • Directors' and officers' liability;

  • Hiring and working with technical environmental consultants;

  • Brownfield development and redevelopment;

  • Environmental management systems (including ISO 14001); and

  • Emissions trading and reduction.

Business Transactions

Working closely with the firm's corporate department, we provide relevant and practical advice on environmental issues in all types of business transactions. We regularly oversee environmental due diligence investigations, advise clients on environmental risk, engage and direct the conduct of environmental assessments by environmental consulting firms, and negotiate representations, warranties, indemnities and disclosure schedules relating to environmental matters, as well as stand-alone release and indemnity agreements, remediation agreements and operating agreements.

Moreover, we focus on determining clients' needs to properly assess risks, developing innovative and realistic approaches to risk allocation, and proposing workable solutions.

Litigation & ADR

We routinely advise and represent corporations, officers, directors and employees in connection with all types of environmental issues, including regulatory investigations, search warrants, governmental orders, internal investigations and toxic torts. We have extensive experience with property remediation/decontamination, spills, hazardous material storage and transportation, obtaining environmental permits, compliance with environmental standards and associated environmental and occupational health and safety issues.

We represent clients who have been charged with environmental or occupational health and safety offences or appear before environmental tribunals, including as part of the federal and/or provincial environmental assessment process.

We work with clients in mediations and/or arbitrations in an attempt to settle environmental disputes without having to resort to the courts.

We also act in commercial risk insurance matters involving environmental issues. The Group's clients include North American and international companies, as well as Lloyd's syndicates, protection and indemnity associations, insurance brokers, corporations, banks and other financial institutions.

Some of the litigation matters that we have been involved with include:

  • Representing a large multinational auto parts manufacturer in litigation involving chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination, including negotiating and appealing government orders, litigation with neighbours and negotiations with other third parties;

  • Representing a large multinational service station operator with regard to a number of environmental issues that have arisen as a result of the historic operation of these stations, including dealing with government agencies, negotiating and appealing government orders, and litigation;

  • Acting for the Region of York in an unsuccessful application by the Township of King to quash a Region by-law taking jurisdiction over the King City Community Sanitary Waste Collection System (colloquially known as the "Big Pipe"). The Court confirmed that the by-law was within the Region's jurisdiction; and

  • Representing numerous clients, both corporations and individuals throughout any regulatory investigations and judicial proceedings that take place following workplace injuries and fatalities.

Environmental Permits & Compliance

We advise both start-up and existing operations on required environmental permits, approvals and licences, and procedures and policies to help our clients achieve and maintain compliance with environmental laws.

We also assist clients in the negotiations with governmental authorities relating to the granting or transfer of environmental permits, response to notices of violation and achievement of compliance of operations and the approval of remediation plans, risk assessments and other environmental reports.

If the parties cannot reach a satisfactory resolution and recourse to an administrative tribunal cannot be avoided, we have extensive experience in these types of matters before such tribunals.

We acted for Sithe Energies as part of a specialized team of consultants involved in various aspects of securing environmental and regulatory approvals to permit the development of two C$750M natural-gas fired power plants to be developed in Brampton (Goreway Station) and Mississauga (Southdown Station). The development is among the largest project finance deals in Canada to date, valued at nearly C$1B. The project required a provincial level environmental review similar to an environmental assessment. Work conducted by the firm included environmental screening, project finance, material project contracts, including construction and fuel supply and government and power purchase RFP processes. Other major approvals required at the provincial level included approval of air and noise emissions.

We help clients navigate the maze of ever-changing environmental regulation at the municipal, provincial and federal levels by providing proactive and timely advice, including on such matters as applicable jurisdiction issues, land contamination, obligations in case of permanent ceasing of activities or off-site migration, water supply, air emission, wastewater discharges, noise limits, waste management, GHG regulation and other green fees.

We also routinely assist clients with the drafting of corporate environmental policies, and the design and implementation of environmental management systems, environmental emergency plans, and spill response plans.

Contamination & Remediation

The Environmental Group at Stikeman Elliott has extensive experience with all manner of site contamination and remediation.

The types of contamination dealt with have included a wide array of both organic and inorganic contaminants in the subsurface, and sites have ranged from relatively straightforward shallow subsurface soil contamination at petroleum product storage sites, to industrial waste disposal sites with extensive subsurface soil, bedrock and aquifer contamination on and off site in highly complex geological, hydrogeological and contaminant settings.

Members of the Environmental Group are very accustomed to dealing with all aspects of site contamination and remediation, and have worked closely with many different scientific experts and consultants, often in a multi-disciplinary team approach. In addition to having an intimate knowledge of the legal and regulatory framework, our lawyers are able to speak the language of contaminated site remediation, and understand the science and technical aspects of the behaviour, migration and clean-up of contaminants in the subsurface. Whether it is dealing with containment and confinement of residual or pooled DNAPL's in fractured bedrock and overburden (e.g., capping, slurry walls, sheet piling, etc.), or hydraulic interception and containment of dissolved organic contaminant plumes in aquifers (e.g., pump and treat installations), or contaminant mass removal techniques such as excavation, thermal or biological treatment, and disposal of contaminated soil, or the application of in situ removal and treatment technologies (e.g., vapour and surfactant injection, biodegradation and chemical degradation enhancement, etc.), our lawyers are knowledgeable and remain on the cutting edge.

We are key contributors and architects in developing strategies, approaches and solutions to the characterization and remediation of contaminated sites, in dealings with regulators, citizens, special interest groups and other stakeholders at the national, provincial and local levels, and when necessary in dealing with related liability matters before courts and tribunals.

Related Practices
Key Contacts

Myriam Fortin 
Richard J. Rusk

Larry Cobb
Jim Harbell

Greg Plater

Rachel V. Hutton
Ross A. MacDonald

Related Publications