Steve O’Melia focuses on municipal, planning/development, 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). Steve contributes 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 2003 move to Waterloo Region to return to private practice, he has advised and represented numerous municipalities, school boards, conservation authorities, private companies, and individuals.
Steve was named to the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada for Municipal Law, and since 2014 has been ranked as “Consistently Recommended” for Property Development by Lexpert Canada.
Steve provides pragmatic advice and representation in a number of areas:
Municipal governance: Steve has provided counsel and representation to well over 30 municipalities over the course of his career and he has developed a keen appreciation for the larger public role of these clients.
School boards: Steve regularly acts for school boards on property, planning, education development charges, and other Education Act matters.
Land development: Steve has acted for private developers and property owners on a broad range of development applications and issues.
Expropriations: Steve has acted for expropriating authorities, property owners, and tenants on numerous full and partial acquisition matters.
Professional achievements & leadership
- The Best Lawyers in Canada – Municipal Law, 2014-2018
- The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, Property Development (Consistently Recommended), 2014-2017
- Certified Specialist, Municipal Law (Local Government/Land Use Planning and Development)
- Past Member, Law Society of Upper Canada Municipal Law Speciality Committee
- 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
- Has appeared as counsel in more than 150 Ontario Municipal Board proceedings
- Counsel to the Regional Municipality of York Police Services Board at the Commission of Inquiry on Proceedings Involving Guy Paul Morin
- Counsel to a number of municipalities, police and fire services at coroner’s inquests
- Successfully defended prominent politicians in response to alleged violations of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and Municipal Elections Act
- “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
- “The Expert Witness,” 1991
- Past 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
Bar admissions & education
- Ontario Bar, 1991
- Mediation Program for Lawyers, Harvard Law School, 2001
- LL.B., Queen’s University, 1989
- B.A. (Economics, honours), Western University, 1986
Miller Thomson recognized in 2017 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory
In the recently released 2017 edition of the Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory, 79 Miller Thomson lawyers across 30 areas of law have been recognized for their industry-leading advisory expertise. These latest rankings are the culmination of an extensive annual peer...
Miller Thomson lawyers recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada 2017
126 Miller Thomson lawyers from across the country and in numerous areas of law have been recognized for their expertise in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada. This result is up from 122 lawyers ranked last year....
Lexpert recognizes 80 Miller Thomson lawyers
Miller Thomson is pleased to announce 80 lawyers across ten of our offices are recognized in the 2016 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as leading practitioners in their field. Published annually since 1997, The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory...
Miller Thomson lawyers successfully represent City of Cambridge
Steve O’Melia and Eric Davis successfully represented the City of Cambridge, opposing an application to disqualify two mayoral candidates from the election on October 27. Read more on The Record.com
Miller Thomson recognized in 2014 Best Lawyers in Canada
We are pleased to announce that 80 Miller Thomson lawyers have been recognized in the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers in Canada (this is 15 more lawyers than last year). Seventeen lawyers are new to the list. Additionally, the following lawyers from...
Steve O’Melia defends former Aurora Mayor from Conflict of Interest Allegations
Steve O’Melia of our Waterloo office recently defended Phyllis Morris, the former Mayor of the Town of Aurora, against allegations made under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Madam Justice Gilmore of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that...
Steven O’Melia is quoted in the Lawyers Weekly article on the Conflict of Interest Act.
Steven O’Melia, a specialist in municipal law and a partner in the Kitchener-Waterloo office of Miller Thomson, questions the viability of having “hard and fast” penalties when dealing with conflict-of-interest situations. “Each case has to be decided on its own...
Steve O’Melia and Jeffrey Lem speak on “Regulatory System, Zoning By-laws and Negotiating with Municipalities” at the Annual Conference of the Canadian-Chinese Professional Accountants Association (CCPAA).
Environmental Issues in Property Development
Miller Thomson hosts a complimentary seminar presented by lawyers in our Environmental and Real Estate practice groups. Topics include: Regulatory Framework for Dealing with Contaminated Land Managing Environmental Due Diligence Investigations Environmental Considerations in Property Transactions Dealing with Excess Fill Time:...
Morning Recess: An Education Industry Seminar Series
Robin-Lee Norris and Steven O’Melia present a Morning Recess seminar on “The Intersection of Municipal and Education Law.”
Steve O’Melia comments on CN Rail land being sold to scrapyard
The Waterloo Region Record, "Municipal board clears way for scrapyard to buy CN lands"
The Ontario Municipal Board allowed a severance Thursday of surplus rail land, paving the way for the property to be sold to the scrapyard next door, over the objections of nearby residents who fear the problems they now endure with...
Steven O’Melia quoted in Law Times
Law Times, "Review of OMB means mandate tweak"
Steven O’Melia interviewed by CTV News on municipal bylaws
CTV Kitchener, "Local mayors watch Hamilton's fight to have say in mailbox placement"
Local mayors say they’re keeping a close eye on Hamilton’s attempt to have a say in where community mailboxes are placed in the city. “I want to know what kind of control we as a municipality have over these kinds of...