Small Firm. Big Thinking.

Our lawyers combine legal experience in local government, commercial real estate development, and construction law to provide focussed legal services to municipalities, owners, builders and developers on a range of projects, from concept to completion, and beyond.

Meet the Civic Legal Team

Sonia Sahota

Managing Partner

Sonia Sahota is a founding partner of the firm and is currently the Managing Partner. She practises in the areas of procurement, construction and land development, with a particular focus on tendering law, procurement fairness and construction contracting. Sonia practised as a professional engineer for 10 years and worked on civil and geotechnical design and construction projects in northern British Columbia, the United States, northern Africa and South America. She provides legal advice with practical insight by drawing upon her unique professional understanding of construction and engineering projects. She routinely provides advice on structuring and administering public tenders and competitive RFPs, managing contractor performance and lien issues and securing land tenure. Sonia has advised on, drafted and negotiated complex contracts for construction, professional services and operational services, in respect of public projects including a multi-use recreational complex, district energy facility, new school sites, stormwater management, waste handling and environmental remediation. Sonia presents regularly on legal topics of interest to members of the local government and engineering communities, such as the Municipal Engineers Division of Engineers and Geoscientists of BC and the Public Works Association (BC).

T604.358.7167Esonia@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2006 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2005 – LL.B., University of British Columbia
  • 1990 – Ap.Sc. (Civil), University of British Columbia

Pam Jefcoat

Partner

Pam Jefcoat is a founding partner of the firm. With over 19 years of combined experience in local government and commercial real estate law, Pam is a seasoned advisor to owners and developers alike on a wide variety of local government and real estate development matters, with a focus on land use planning, subdivision, and rezoning and redevelopment of residential, mixed-use and industrial properties. Having honed her skills on numerous projects for both municipalities and developers, Pam brings extensive experience into advising clients on rezoning and permit approval processes, public hearings, phased developments, development agreements, density bonusing, density transfers, the imposition of development cost charges, community amenity contributions, housing agreements, alternative transportation requirements and subdivision servicing requirements. Pam holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and offers unique insight into matters of public policy and its impacts on urban development. Pam frequently speaks throughout the province on matters of interest to both local governments and developers, including recent topics such as Phased Developments: Managing Growth and Securing Amenities, The Subdivision Application Process, Statutory Considerations and the Broad Powers of the Approving Officer and the Regulation of Lot Sizes, Subdivision Standards and Discretionary Imposition of On-Site and Off-Site Works and Services. Pam is also on the CLEBC’s Editorial Board for the British Columbia Real Estate Development Practice Manual and is the co-author of the chapter in that manual entitled Real Estate Development on First Nations Lands.

T604.358.2248Epam@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2001 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2001 – Masters, Public Administration, University of Victoria
  • 2000 – LL.B., University of Victoria
  • 1995 – B.A. (Political Science), University of Victoria

Adrienne Atherton

Partner

Adrienne has 25 years of experience in litigation of which 22 years is in local government and construction litigation, including for the MIABC, both as outside counsel and in-house as Senior Staff Lawyer.  Adrienne has extensive experience in professional liability litigation, insurance and municipal litigation in all of its variety, including construction, building inspection, environmental, facilities and infrastructure liability, bylaw enforcement or interpretation, remedial action orders, insurance, tax sales, contract disputes, flooding and other nuisance claims, regulatory liability, privacy, defamation, FOIPPA, social media issues, procurement litigation, expropriation and judicial review. Adrienne also has experience in collective agreement interpretation and employment and human rights law, and has provided advice to local governments and their Councils/Boards on process and procedures when either act as quasi-judicial decision makers.  Adrienne has acted for local governments in negotiations with other levels of government, including provincial and federal departments and agencies as well as First Nations, and has represented local governments at all levels of Court in British Columbia and in administrative tribunals, mediations and arbitrations.

T604.358.6648Eadrienne@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 1995 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 1994 – LLB, University of British Columbia
  • 1991 – B Com, - Specialty: Industrial Relations Management, University of British Columbia

Eugenia Adamovitch

Associate
Eugenia is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice. She has assisted local governments in relation to a wide variety of real estate development and land use planning and regulation matters, including subdivision approval processes, rezoning, development permit issues, building permit issues, and latecomer agreements. Eugenia routinely negotiates and drafts complex legal agreements for large multi-use commercial development projects. She also regularly provides advice to municipalities and regional districts on jurisdictional matters and processes for consultation and public hearings, specifically issues related to escheated property, bylaw enforcement, governance, and elections. Eugenia obtained her Juris Doctor from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in July 2020. While at law school, she served as the Clinic Coordinator of the Artists’ Legal Outreach Clinic, and worked with the Law for Non-Profits Project, where she provided legal services to local charities and non-profit organizations. She was also extensively involved with the UBC Law Review, serving on the Board of Directors as the Patrons and Special Projects Manager. Outside of the office, Eugenia is a film lover who tries to also find time for her other passions: playing her cello, spending time outdoors, and hunting for vinyl records.

T604.358.1663Eeugenia@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2020 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2019 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
  • 2015 – BA (Political Science), University of Calgary

Nicholas Krishan

Associate
Nicholas is an associate lawyer at Civic Legal LLP. He maintains a general municipal law practice with a focus on procurement, land development, and privacy law. Nicholas articled at Civic Legal LLP and was called to the Bar in July 2020. He completed his J.D. from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. During law school, he served as the Director of Operations for the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program, where he organized with community leaders to provide legal services to low-income individuals. Nicholas also volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada and Legal Education Outreach and has completed the Business Law Concentration. Prior to enrolling in law school, Nicholas worked as a Recruitment Coordinator at an international company and completed a B.Comm. specializing in Finance from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing soccer, cycling, scuba diving, and travelling.

T604.358.7443Enicholas@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2020 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2019 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
  • 2015 – B.Comm, University of British Columbia

Marcela Ouatu

Associate
Marcela is an associate lawyer of the firm. Her practice is focused primarily in the areas of tendering, procurement, construction matters and local government law. Marcela’s experience includes assisting with construction contracts, procurement, and liability issues for public organizations as well as insurance disputes and construction litigation. She writes on legal topics of interest to members of the local government and construction communities, including builders’ liens and construction contracts. Marcela has specifically
assisted with a presentation to the AIBC regarding common legal issues involving architects in the delivery of public projects and construction trends, such as BIM and IPD contracts, good faith contractual duties, prompt payment legislation and social procurement. Prior to joining Civic Legal LLP, Marcela completed a Juris Doctor and a Master of Laws at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. During her time in law school, she completed the Business Law Concentration and was a student clinician at the
Business Law Clinic, where she was providing legal advice to small businesses. Marcela also worked in the legal department of an international franchise company and at a Vancouver boutique law firm, specializing in real estate, corporate law, and estate planning. Marcela articled at a civil litigation law firm, where she gained extensive legal experience in advocacy by frequently representing clients in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

T604.358.7590Emarcela@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2020 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2019 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
  • 2015 – LL.M., Peter A. Allard School of Law, The University of British Columbia
  • 2010 – LL.B., Moldova State University

Pars Khalighi

Legal Administrator
Pars is the Legal Administrator for Civic Legal LLP and responsible for managing the administrative operations of the firm. She provides support in all facets of the firm’s operations, including billing, document management, marketing, human resources, and professional development. Pars brings with her experience from the hospitality, accounting, and consulting industries, centered around a client-first approach. Outside of work, she likes to spend her time travelling, learning about the newest developments in social media, cooking, and baking. Pars is available to assist you with any firm administrative matter or simply to help you connect with one of Civic Legal’s lawyers.

T604.358.2669Epars@civiclegal.cavCard

What We Do

We provide a broad range of solicitors and litigation legal services to municipalities, owners, builders and developers.

Our Areas of Expertise

Rezoning, Land Development and Subdivision

We have extensive experience in all aspects of land use planning, land development and rezoning including:

Structuring and drafting simple and complex development agreements:
  • servicing and performance security for on-site and off-site works
  • easements and SRWs
  • phased developments
  • affordable housing and related construction covenants
  • latecomers
Structuring and drafting Section 219 Covenants:
  • flooding, fire hazard, geo-hazard and other environmental conditions
  • district energy
  • energy efficient design
  • water conservation
  • public art
  • car share programs, electric vehicle charging stations, end-of-trip facilities and other transportation alternatives
  • other restrictions on the use, development and subdivision of land
Advising on:
  • public hearings
  • zoning
  • subdivision
  • permit approvals
  • land use contracts and termination
  • liabilities associated with flood risks, geotechnical risks and extreme hazard conditions
  • geothermal and alternative energy source development

Tendering, Construction & Infrastructure Development

With a professional engineer on our team, we can speak the same language.  Our advice will not only consider the legal aspects of the issue but also focus on practical, workable solutions.  From concept to completion, or any stage in between, let our knowledgeable team shoulder the load of your next project with our expertise in:

Advising on procurement and project development:
  • methods for procuring goods and services
  • procurement fairness protocols for administration, evaluation, selection and post-award issues
  • bidder non-compliance analysis
  • safely cancelling procurement processes
  • bid and project bonds
  • project delivery options (design-bid-build, design-build, construction management, others)
  • options for use of standard form contracts (eg. MMCD, CCDC, other)
  • negotiating works contracts
  • resolving legal issues relating to design and construction disputes
Advising on construction:
  • builder’s lien issues and statutory obligations for owners
  • building bylaw and building code issues
  • contract interpretation
  • delay claims
Drafting and structuring:
  • procurement documents (RFPs, tenders, addenda and other)
  • procurement policies and procedures
  • construction contracts
  • public private partnership agreements
  • consulting services contracts
  • supplementary conditions of contract

Real Estate

Real estate is a mainstay of our practice.  Let our extensive experience help you maneuver through your next transaction, big or small:

Securing land tenure rights:
  • statutory rights of way
  • easements
  • leases
  • licenses
  • encroachments
  • expropriations
Structuring and drafting:
  • contracts of purchase and sale
  • land exchange agreements
  • options to purchase
  • rights of first refusal
  • joint venture agreements
  • co-ownership agreements
  • assignment and assumption agreements
Coordinating all aspects of the conveyance of lands:
  • public notices
  • due diligence investigations
  • environmental compliance
  • contaminated sites
  • Land Title Office filings
Managing all aspects of road closures and park land disposal:
  • public notices
  • approval processes
  • bylaws
  • purchase and sale and exchange agreements
  • Land Title Office filings
Structuring, drafting and providing strategic advice on a wide variety of lease arrangements:
  • offers to lease, options to lease, ground leases, building leases and subleases for industrial, commercial and residential properties
  • leasehold subdivisions
  • environmental risk allocation
  • advising on landlord/tenant rights

Local Government Agreements

We assist our clients with negotiating and drafting a myriad of different agreements from the very simple to the highly complex, including:

Real Estate Agreements:
  • offers to purchase
  • purchase and sale
  • asset purchase
  • land exchange
  • options to purchase and rights of first refusal
  • joint venture
  • co-ownership
  • leases
  • licences
  • statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
  • exclusivity
  • beneficiary charge and authorization
  • assignment and assumption
Land Development:
  • statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
  • master developments
  • servicing
  • municipal access
  • highway encroachment
  • phased development
  • amenities
  • affordable housing
Construction Agreements:
  • design-build
  • works and services
  • infrastructure, including concession agreements and other public-private partnership agreements
Servicing Agreements:
  • partnering
  • First Nations services
  • mutual aid
  • waste, organics and recyclables management
  • telecommunications
Business and Finance Agreements:
  • operations and management
  • municipal corporations
  • community forests
  • revenue sharing
  • security, including loans, guarantees, mortgages, promissory notes and other forms of security arrangements
  • personal property security
  • confidentiality and non-disclosure
  • exclusivity
  • indemnification, release and waivers
  • revitalization tax exemptions
  • utility franchises
  • asset purchases
  • equipment leases
  • community energy utilities
  • sponsorship

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

We provide day-to-day practical advice and support to local governments in their decision making under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, including:

Advising on:
  • access to information requests
  • statutory disclosure obligations
  • privacy compliance obligations
Assisting with:
  • mediations
  • inquiries before the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
  • the preparation of submissions and supporting affidavits for written inquiries

General Municipal Advice

With over 40 years of combined legal experience in local government, real estate, construction and corporate law, our team of lawyers is well positioned to advise local governments on:

  • constitutional law, jurisdiction and related regulatory issues
  • liability issues, loss prevention and risk management
  • permissive tax exemptions
  • revitalization tax exemptions
  • DCCs
  • establishment and use of reserve funds
  • bylaw drafting and interpretation
  • conflict of interest, procedural rules and related matters
  • remedial action authority
  • tax sales
  • elections
  • corporate governance issues
  • statutory interpretation

Environmental

We have worked through many land development and commercial transactions involving environmental issues.  Let us assist you by drawing from our experience in:

Advising on:
  • local government regulatory authority under the EMA and CSR
  • regulatory tools for groundwater protection
  • riparian rights regulation
  • administration of the site profile regime
  • remediation of contaminated sites
  • cost recovery options
  • environmental risk allocation in local government contracts
  • strategies to minimize liability for purchasing/receiving contaminated sites
  • due diligence and regulatory compliance
Structuring and Drafting:
  • environmental indemnity and release agreements
  • carbon offset agreements
  • waste, organics and recyclable collection and disposal (MMBC, in-house or private)
  • community energy agreements

Working Smart

We strive to increase efficiency and create predictability in fees by working directly with you at the beginning of each engagement to define expectations, plan the scope of work and monitor and manage the work to ensure your legal matters remain on track, on time and on budget.
We may from time to time engage reputable independent research lawyers and paralegals, with your consent, for certain aspects of a project, where this would be sensible, cost-effective and efficient.

Client Service Policy

We are committed to providing exceptional service to our clients. Our goal is to raise your expectations and then exceed them. We will be accessible, responsive and will put the needs of our clients first. How will we do this?

  • We will return phone calls and emails as soon as possible and within one business day at the latest.

  • We will let you know when we will be out of reach and will provide the contact information of the person who can answer your questions.

  • We will ask you about your service preferences before, during and after each engagement.

  • We will communicate clearly regarding fees, costs, team members and deadlines.

  • We will respect our agreed upon fee arrangements and will staff each matter in a way that provides the best value for the service provided.

  • We will strive to meet or exceed our deadlines. If we cannot, we will let you know well in advance.

  • We will keep you completely up to date on the status of your matters.

  • Our bills will be clear, correct and prompt and will be in a format that meets your preferences.

  • We will meet with you in person or by telephone at least once a year - off the clock - to ask about your satisfaction with our services.

  • Last, but not least, we will, upon request and at no cost, provide you with on-site / in-house seminars on legal topics of interest to your staff.

Rates And Billing Practices

We will work with you to customize billing arrangements that are attuned to the services required and your bottom line, including traditional hourly billing, fee estimates, price caps and pre-agreed flat fees.

Recent Articles

Publication, Staff | |

Architects, Engineers, and Builders — Oh My! The Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. Langford (City), 2020 BCSC 801

As published in Northern Construction Connection October 2020 Newsletter.

In 2016, the City of Langford’s Chief Building Inspector issued a building permit for the construction of a residential / commercial strata complex. An architect was not involved in the project – the design and drawings were completed by a designer.

Read Full Article

Article, Staff | |

The BC Court of Appeal Rules on Local Government Liability in Abdi v. Bottomleys and City of Burnaby

In 2014, the plaintiff, Ms. Abdi, was seriously injured during a gathering at the residence of the defendant tenants, Mr. and Ms. Bottomley. Ms. Abdi and other guests were gathered around a fire in the Bottomley’s backyard that was contained in a wheel rim acting as a fire pit. Mr. Bottomley poured used motor oil onto the fire, causing an explosion that severely burned Ms. Abdi.

Read Full Article

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Canadian Healthcare Infrastructure East Conference (Virtual), October 27, 2020, 11:30-12:30 pst

Fireside Chat: Managing Infrastructure Projects in a COVID-19 World

Adrienne Atherton Panelist
See all Speaking Engagements