Our lawyers combine legal experience in local government, commercial real estate development, and construction law to provide focused 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 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).
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.
Michael is a partner with the firm and has over 15 years of experience advising and representing local governments. He maintains a mixed practice of both litigation and solicitor work with a particular focus on land use, development, local government finance and bylaw regulation and enforcement. Michael regularly gives advice on and represents local governments in general matters, including property taxes, elections, highways, construction disputes and expropriation. He also routinely assists clients with tax sales and remedial action requirements, both unique and powerful local government remedies. Michael presents regularly at local government conferences and workshops, including the Government Finance Officers Association (BC) and the Licence Inspectors and Bylaw Officers Association. In 2014, Michael obtained a Master of Laws degree, writing a thesis on the municipal regulation of business. Prior to pursuing a career in law, Michael studied economics and worked in procurement for a telecommunications company in Germany.
2004 – M.A. (Economics), University of British Columbia
2001 – B.A. (Economics (Hons) & International Relations), University of British Columbia
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.
2019 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
2015 – BA (Political Science), University of Calgary
David is an associate lawyer of the firm. His practice is focused on municipal, land development and construction matters. Prior to working at Civic Legal LLP, David worked as a litigator and represented insurance corporations, local governments, construction managers and local and national companies in a variety of legal actions and disputes. David has developed a unique perspective on risk management, negotiation, and strategy from his litigation experience, which he draws on to advise his clients on a variety of legal and regulatory issues. In his solicitors practice David routinely advises clients on local government issues, procurement processes and land use planning and development regulatory matters. He has further drafted construction contracts and municipal service agreements on varied construction projects and contractual matters.
David completed his law studies in Ontario at the University of Windsor and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2019. Prior to studying law, David worked for a credit union and legal advocacy non-profit where he worked on community outreach initiatives on Vancouver’s downtown eastside. David completed his undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia with his capstone research focused on Chinese foreign direct investment in infrastructure projects across Sub-Saharan Africa.
2022 – Certified Information Privacy Professional/Canada
2019 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
2018 – JD, University of Windsor
2012 – BA (Political Science & History), University of British Columbia
Sara Gray is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice. Prior to working at Civic Legal LLP, Sara worked as a litigator, primarily representing local municipalities and community groups in land-use disputes. She also worked in-house as counsel for a major insurance brokerage, providing risk management advice and resolving coverage disputes on behalf of clients, who were mainly local governments and commercial entities. Her previous litigation and solicitors practice gives her a unique outlook on a wide range of issues affecting local government. She provides advice on land-use, regulatory, and liability matters, while also drafting and reviewing contracts.
Sara completed her law studies at Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2018, after spending two years post-graduation working abroad in London, England as a legal advisor to a cyber security company. She hopes to use her experience and passion for local government to deliver outstanding legal advice to her clients as her practice continues to grow.
2015 – Juris Doctor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
2012 – BA (Political Science & Psychology), University of British Columbia
Kai is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice with a focus on real estate development. To that end, he regularly drafts legal agreements for development projects. He has also assisted with various local government matters, from procurement to regulatory issues.
Kai obtained his Juris Doctor from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at The University of British Columbia, articled with a provincial public organization, and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in May 2022. While his law school experience was varied, ranging from being a clinician with the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program and presenting legal topics to high school students through Legal Education Outreach, to singing and dancing in the school’s annual comedy sketch show as part of the UBC Law Revue and working as the Centre for Business Law’s Operations Officer, his highlights were: participating in the Corporate Counsel Externship, competing in the 2021 Adam F. Fanaki Competition Law Moot and being awarded Best Factum – Appellant alongside his moot partner, and volunteering with the A2JBC through Pro Bono Students Canada, where Kai had the opportunity to discuss access to justice issues with advocates throughout the province and was co-recipient of the 2021 Honourable Donna J. Martinson Access to Justice Award.
Prior to law school, Kai obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from The University of British Columbia. Upon graduating, he worked at an architectural glass fabrication facility, where he implemented a new laminated glass line, and designed and implemented process improvements for multiple fabrication departments.
Outside of the office, you can find Kai on rehearsing or performing in shows as part of a local community musical theatre group.
2021 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
2015 – BASc (Mechanical Engineering), University of British Columbia
Marcela is an associate lawyer with Civic Legal LLP. Her practice focuses primarily on tendering, procurement, construction matters and local government law. Marcela assists clients with drafting and reviewing construction contracts and procurement documents, contract administration, and general municipal matters. She regularly writes on legal topics of interest to local governments and the construction industry. 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.
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
Talya Peled Bar
Talya is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice with a focus on construction, procurement, and insurance law. Her experience includes bylaw drafting, advising on liability issues, and representing local governments in court, negotiations, and mediation. Talya articled at Civic Legal LLP and was called to the Bar in June 2021. She completed her Master of Laws (CL) at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. Prior to obtaining her master’s degree, Talya graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Law in Israel. During law school, she volunteered with the Israel Anti-Poverty Association, where she provided legal advice to low-income clients and taught academic writing and legal research to junior law students. Before relocating to Canada, Talya practiced as a lawyer for over three years and gained extensive experience in civil litigation, including medical malpractice. Through this unique background, Talya strives to understand each client’s needs and craft an effective and practical solution.
2019 – LL.M.(CL), Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
2009 – Admitted to the Israel Bar Association
2008 – LL.B. Netanya Academic College
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 over 15 years of experience from the hospitality, accounting, and consulting industries, centered around a client-first approach. Pars is available to assist you with any firm administrative matter or simply to help you connect with one of Civic Legal’s lawyers.
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
affordable housing and related construction covenants
Structuring and drafting Section 219 Covenants:
flooding, fire hazard, geo-hazard and other environmental conditions
energy efficient design
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
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
Drafting and structuring:
procurement documents (RFPs, tenders, addenda and other)
procurement policies and procedures
public private partnership agreements
consulting services contracts
supplementary conditions of contract
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
Structuring and drafting:
contracts of purchase and sale
land exchange agreements
options to purchase
rights of first refusal
joint venture agreements
assignment and assumption agreements
Coordinating all aspects of the conveyance of lands:
due diligence investigations
Land Title Office filings
Managing all aspects of road closures and park land disposal:
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
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
options to purchase and rights of first refusal
statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
beneficiary charge and authorization
assignment and assumption
statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
works and services
infrastructure, including concession agreements and other public-private partnership agreements
First Nations services
waste, organics and recyclables management
Business and Finance Agreements:
operations and management
security, including loans, guarantees, mortgages, promissory notes and other forms of security arrangements
personal property security
confidentiality and non-disclosure
indemnification, release and waivers
revitalization tax exemptions
community energy utilities
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:
access to information requests
statutory disclosure obligations
privacy compliance obligations
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
establishment and use of reserve funds
bylaw drafting and interpretation
conflict of interest, procedural rules and related matters
remedial action authority
corporate governance issues
We have worked through many land development and commercial transactions involving environmental issues. Let us assist you by drawing from our experience in:
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
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.
In 2021, there were 1,081 work-related fatalities in Canada. The construction industry had the highest number of fatalities, 212. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, workers in the construction industry submitted 28,721 claims for lost time due to injury. Serious injuries and fatalities are devastating for workers and their families. They also place employers at risk of liability.
As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection March 2023 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.
A summary of Centurion Apartment Properties Limited Partnership v Loco Investments Inc, 2022 BCSC 2273
In settling the terms of a contract, parties often address how liability will be handled in the event of a loss, whether through limitation of liability clauses, indemnity clauses, or otherwise. In some cases, parties may also wish to seek redress outside of the terms of the contract through claims of negligence. As discussed in this article, however, such a claim may not always be successful.
As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection February 2023 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.
Liability Claims for Ineffective Enforcement – What’s Scary and What’s a Scare Tactic?
Challenging situations create uncertain risks. Complaints to local governments about an unsafe building, a nuisance property, or bad behaviour in a public place often come with a claim that the local government will be liable to pay damages for failing to rectify the situation. It can be difficult for local government staff and elected officials to separate liability risks from the rhetoric. Michael and David will discuss the interplay between regulatory authority and liability exposure in various common scenarios.
LIBOA Annual Conference, May 30-June 2, 2023
Trees, Unlike Dogs, are all Bark and No Bite
The focus of this presentation is urban trees. In their presentation, Michael Moll and Don Howieson will go over the value of trees in a metropolitan setting and review various tree bylaw provisions designed to protect urban trees. They will also illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of these provisions with reference to decisions made by the courts. Michael and Don will also discuss how tree bylaw investigations may be improved, including with reference to restrictive covenants and development permit areas.