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Steven J. O'Melia

Steven J. O'Melia



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Steve O’Melia focuses his practice on municipal, planning/development, environmental and expropriation law. Acting for both public and private sector clients, Steve frequently appears before municipal councils, committees and administrative tribunals such as the Ontario Municipal Board. He has successfully represented clients before all levels of the Ontario Court on municipal law matters.

Steve is a Certified Specialist in Municipal Law (Local Government/Land Use Planning and Development) and was appointed to the Law Society’s Municipal Law Specialty Committee. He has been a course instructor in municipal law topics for Conestoga College and the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) and is a regular contributor to municipal law publications and continuing legal education programs.

After beginning his legal career in the Toronto office of a large national law firm, Steve held increasingly senior in-house legal positions with local and regional municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area. Since his move to Waterloo Region to return to private practice in 2003, he has advised and represented numerous municipalities, school boards, conservation authorities, private companies and individuals.

Steve successfully represented several municipalities at Ontario Municipal Board hearings arising from appeals of zoning by-laws relating to wind energy projects, including what was at that time the largest project of its type in Ontario’s history. In approaching such matters, he appreciates the need to achieve a favourable legal outcome while respecting the broader public role of his municipal clients.

Steve was named to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada© for Municipal Law. 

In his leisure time, Steve enjoys a variety of activities including skiing, cycling, golf, windsurfing and soccer.

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  • Mediation Program for Lawyers, Harvard Law School, 2001
  • LL.B., Queen's University, 1989
  • B.A., (Hons.) Economics, Western University, 1986

Professional Achievements

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada©, Municipal Law, 2014-2016
  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory, Property Development; Property Lease, 2014-2015
  • Certified Specialist, Municipal Law (Local Government/Land Use Planning and Development)
  • Associate Faculty Member, Conestoga College Municipal Law Clerk Program
  • Course Instructor, AMCTO Certification Program
  • Past Instructor, Law Society of Upper Canada Bar Admission Course
  • Inaugural Recipient, International Municipal Lawyers Association Canadian Scholarship
  • Past Member of the Executive, Canadian Bar Association, Municipal Law Section

Community Involvement

  • Vice Chair, City of Waterloo Committee of Adjustment
  • Director, K-W Habilitation Services
  • Past Vice Chair, Town of Markham Committee of Adjustment
  • Incorporating Lawyer and Founding Director, The Community Safety Village  of York Region


  • Member, Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations
  • Member, Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Past Member, Law Society of Upper Canada Municipal Law Specialty Committee
  • Member, International Municipal Lawyers Association
  • Member, Ontario Expropriation Association
  • Past Trustee and Member, Waterloo Law Association


  • Municipal Bonusing: What's Permitted and What's Not, 2006
  • Changes Planned for the Ontario Municipal Board, 2005
  • Municipal Election 2003: The "Lame Duck" Period, 2003
  • Municipalities and Their Growing Role in Assessment Litigation, 2003
  • Freedom of Expression and Sign By-Laws in Canada- Where are we now?, 2002
  • Is the Writing on the Wall for Sign By-laws in Canada?, 2002
  • Do Not Disturb: Expropriations and the Planning Approvals Process, 1997
  • What is the Municipal Role? Responsibilities and Resources for Dealing with Contaminated Sites, 1996
  • Municipal Regulation of Propane Storage Tanks: An Explosive Issue, 1995
  • Current Trends and Future Opportunities in Corporate Securities Issues- Shareholder Rights Plans, 1990

Industry Expertise

Areas of Focus

  • Municipal Law
  • Land Use Planning and Development
  • Regulatory

Year of Call

  • Ontario Bar, 1991