Small Firm. Big Thinking.

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

Partner

Sonia Sahota is a founding partner of the firm. 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

Managing Partner

Pam Jefcoat is a founding partner of the firm and is currently the Managing Partner. With over 22 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.

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

Michael Moll

Partner

Michael is a partner with Civic Legal LLP and has over 15 years of experience advising and representing local governments. He maintains a mixed solicitor and litigation practice with a particular focus on local government finance, land use, development, and bylaw regulation and enforcement. Michael regularly assists local governments on a wide variety of matters, including property taxes, tax sales remedial action requirements,  elections, highways, construction disputes and expropriation.  Michael is a frequent speaker at local government conferences and workshops, including those hosted by the Government Finance Officers Association (BC), the Local Government Compliance and Enforcement Association and the Municipal Insurance Association of BC. 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.

T604.358.1933Emichael@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2014 – LL.M., University of Toronto
  • 2008 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2007 – LL.B., University of British Columbia
  • 2004 – M.A. (Economics), University of British Columbia
  • 2001 – B.A. (Economics (Hons) & International Relations), University of British Columbia

Aidan Andrews

Associate

Aidan is an associate lawyer with the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice, with particular interest in land use planning, judicial review, and freedom of information and privacy matters. Aidan has provided advice to local governments about zoning compliance, use of park land, and the scope of easements. As well, he has drafted leases and section 219 covenants, advised on conflict of interest and code of conduct issues, and assisted with submissions to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. Aidan has assisted with the preparation of pleadings in bylaw enforcement matters and written submissions to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.

Aidan obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 2024, after articling with a municipal law boutique in Vancouver. During law school, Aidan spent time working for a full-service law firm, a disability non-profit, and two administrative tribunals. Aidan previously obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Regina.

T604.358.0252Eaidan@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2024 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2023 – J.D. (Co-op), University of Victoria
  • 2019 – B.A. (Political Science), University of Regina

David Giroday

Associate

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.

T604.358.7443 Edavid@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 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

Kai Hsieh

Associate

Kai is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice with a focus on real estate development. In particular, he regularly drafts section 219 covenants, statutory rights of ways and other legal agreements for real estate projects, and he has provided assistance during various stages of the development process, from rezoning and development permit issuance to air space parcel subdivision and occupancy permit issuance. He has also assisted with other local government matters, ranging 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 organization, and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in May 2022. He was heavily involved in law school through activities such as:

– presenting legal topics to high school students through Legal Education Outreach;

– working as the Centre for Business Law’s Operations Officer;

– participating in the Corporate Counsel Externship;

– competing in the 2021 Adam F. Fanaki Competition Law Moot where he and his moot partner were awarded “Best Factum – Appellant”;

– volunteering as a clinician with the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program; and

– volunteering with 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 with Distinction from The University of British Columbia. Upon graduating, he was employed as a Process Improvement Specialist at an architectural glass fabrication company for several years, where he designed and implemented a new laminated glass line as well as numerous mechanical and organizational process improvements.

Outside of the office, Kai has participated in the CBABC Law Student Mentorship Program as a mentor.

T604.358.7014Ekai@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2022 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2021 – JD, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
  • 2015 – BASc (Mechanical Engineering), University of British Columbia

Kyle Laplante

Associate

Kyle is an associate lawyer of the firm and maintains a general municipal law practice with a focus on real estate development. Prior to joining Civic Legal LLP, Kyle worked at a regional law firm specializing in real estate development where he represented a number of developers. In his practice, Kyle assists clients throughout all stages of the development process from rezoning and development permit issuance to air space parcel subdivision and occupancy permit issuance. He regularly drafts section 219 covenants, statutory rights of ways and other legal agreements for development projects.

Kyle obtained his Bachelor of Political Science and Communication Studies with a Minor in Legal Studies and a specialization in Media and Cultural Theory with Distinction from Wilfrid Laurier University. He later completed his Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2023. During his time in law school, Kyle volunteered with the Indigenous Law Students Government and OUTLaw to advance the rights of Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ Peoples. While in law school, Kyle worked with the Federal Government at Fisheries and Oceans Canada where he worked on international oceans policy with a particular focus on the Arctic Ocean. Upon graduation, Kyle articled with a national corporate law firm in downtown Vancouver.

T6043581663Ekyle@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2023 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2022 – J.D., University of Ottawa
  • 2019 – B.A. (Political Science and Communication Studies), Wilfrid Laurier University

Marcela Ouatu

Associate

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.

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 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.

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

Article | |

Holdback Liens Against Holdbacks Up The Construction Chain – Hi-Tide Shoring & Foundations (2012) Ltd. v Chandos Construction Ltd.

In the recent case of Hi-Tide Shoring & Foundation (2012) Ltd. v Chandos Construction Ltd., the British Columbia Supreme Court considered whether a sub-subcontractor on a construction project may claim a holdback lien against the holdbacks held up the construction chain or was limited to claiming against the holdback that relates to the sub-subcontractor’s own contract. The Court said that subcontractors may claim against holdbacks retained at each level of the construction chain up to the holdback retained by the owner. However, when it comes time to determine how much the subcontractor is paid for that claim of lien, section 34 of the Builders Lien Act may limit the amount the lien claimants may recover through such claims.

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection June 2024 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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Article, Staff | |

Legal Issues in Municipal Tax Sales – 2024

Tax sales have been a municipal collection remedy in British Columbia for over a century. More recently, tax sales of property in Penticton, Spallumcheen and Pemberton have attracted media attention and revealed the significant financial and emotional risk to owners, and the significant liability risk to municipalities, that can arise from misunderstanding or being unaware that a property has been sold for municipal tax sales. When conducting a tax sale, a collector’s first reference should always be to the procedures set out in the Local Government Act, RSBC 2015, c 1 and the Community Charter, SBC 2003, c 26 .1 The intention of this paper is to provide supplementary commentary on legal issues that arise from matters not expressly covered in the statute.

Presented at the GFOABC Annual Conference in Kamloops, BC on June 4, 2024.

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