John Doolan

Partner | Vancouver


Portrait of John Doolan


John Doolan is a senior real estate lawyer, with a wide variety of experience in commercial real estate law and aboriginal business law matters. He is lead of Miller Thomson’s Aboriginal Business Law Group.

John has been a commercial real estate lawyer for over 30 years.  His experience includes advising on major projects and financings, infrastructure development, structuring transactions, acquisitions and dispositions, partnerships and joint ventures, real estate development and leasing.

John has extensive experience in aboriginal business law, including with respect to relationships with First Nations, leases and other tenures on First Nation land, and commercial agreements and financings involving First Nations. He represents First Nations and First Nation groups, the provincial government and business enterprises on economic development matters, including complex structures and projects.

John works successfully with federal, provincial and aboriginal governments and officials, including First Nation councils and administrations, Indigenous Services Canada, Justice Canada and the office of the provincial Attorney General.

John is recognized as a leading lawyer in Aboriginal Law by both Chambers Canada and Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business. He is included in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, a guide to the leading law firms and practitioners in Canada, as a leading lawyer in the areas of aboriginal law, property development, and property leasing, and was featured as one of “Canada’s Leading Infrastructure Lawyers” in the 2015 and 2018 Lexpert special editions.

Professional achievements & leadership

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada – Real Estate Law, 2018 - 2024; Aboriginal/Indigenous Practice, 2020 - 2024
  • Chambers Global and Chambers Canada: Aboriginal Law, 2018 - 2022
  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, Indigenous Law; Property Development; Property Leasing

Notable matters

  • Acting as general commercial counsel to Tsawwassen First Nation on structuring, planning, development approval and regulation, economic development, joint ventures, requests for proposals, leasing and commercial matters in the implementation of its 2009 treaty, including advising on their industrial lands developments and the new Tsawwassen Mills shopping centre development;
  • Advising on the establishment of the Tsuut’ina Nation – Canderel Real Estate limited partnership for the development of 1,200 acres of Tsuut’ina Nation reserve land and related structuring, planning, leasing and development matters;
  • Acting for CMHC as project leader on the 11 tower Senakw development on 10.5 acres of Squamish Nation lands in downtown Vancouver;
  • Advising lending syndicates on structuring, capacity, contracting, security and legal opinion issues in connection with utility infrastructure projects in Ontario involving First Nation participants;
  • Advising lending syndicates on First Nations’ issues in connection with the financing of a major resort and casino project on First Nation reserve land in Alberta;
  • Advising, energy, utility and forestry companies on First Nations’ issues, including relationship-building and agreements, land tenures, additions to reserve lands and treaty issues;
  • Acting for Whistler/Blackcomb on Ski Area Development Agreements, real estate developments, public offerings, going private and syndicated financing transactions;
  • Advising a variety of other business clients on due diligence, structuring, financing, joint ventures, partnerships, land tenure and security matters in connection with business ventures involving First Nations and projects on First Nation land;
  • Preparing requests for proposals and responses to requests for proposals on major projects, including destination casino, sewage treatment plant and infrastructure projects on First Nation land;
  • Assisting with the establishment of the federal First Nations Tax Commission and the development and implementation of its corporate governance policies;
  • Acting as counsel to the First Nations Tax Commission on the proposed new federal Indigenous Land Title Act and regulations;
  • Advising on the implications of modern First Nation legislation, including the Indian Oil and Gas Act, and First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, First Nations Fiscal Management Act, First Nations Land Management Act and on modern First Nations’ treaties;
  • Advising Tk’emlups te Secwepémc (Kamloops) on relations and agreements with governments and developers and a broad range of real property and commercial matters, including reserve land leasing matters, the establishment of a development approval process, the structuring and implementation of comprehensive real estate developments and the acquisition of a major ranch property to be added to the First Nation’s reserve lands;
  • Advising the developer of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, British Columbia on all real estate development and regulatory matters from resort start-up, including negotiating its Ski Area Development Agreement with the Province of British Columbia and establishing water and sewer utilities and a regime for the mountain’s regulation of real estate development; and
  • Advising developers and First Nations on the structuring and implementation of multi-phase, commercial, residential and mixed-use leasehold developments on First Nation land.

Community involvement

  • British Columbia Minor Hockey Coach, 2010 - 2020

Professional memberships

  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Law Society of British Columbia

Bar admissions & education

  • British Columbia, 1987
  • LL.B., University of British Columbia