Rod Northey is head of Gowling WLG's Practice Group for Environmental Law.
He is in his 30th year of private practice in environmental law and certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in this field. His current practice focuses on regulatory approvals and strategies across the full range of approval regimes involving the environment — including environmental assessment, land use, endangered species, cultural heritage, energy, resource extraction, transportation, waste management, and water approvals.
Rod's strategic work in environmental assessment is widely acknowledged. From August 2016 to March 2017, Rod was a member of the expert panel appointed by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change to carry out a Canada-wide consultation and review of Canada's environmental assessment process. Similarly, from May 2016 to May 2017, Rod was a member of the GTA West Advisory Panel appointed by the Ontario Minister of Transportation to conduct a strategic review of a major environmental assessment for future transportation infrastructure in the GTA West corridor.
Clients facing novel regulatory challenges retain Rod for his innovative regulatory strategies.
Ongoing client work has Rod leading legal teams for several major environmental assessments in the transportation, energy and mining sectors across Ontario and in Nunavut:
- Five Ontario municipalities participating in a federal environmental assessment hearing and a court challenge over constitutional issues
- A northern Inuit government proposing a port and all-season road
- A northern Ontario First Nation proposing an all-season road within its traditional territory
As litigation counsel, Rod has been involved in dozens of tribunal and court appeals, including more than 40 reported environmental law decisions before federal and Ontario trial and appellate courts, and Ontario environmental and land use tribunals, including acting for the applicant in Ontario's first renewable energy approval hearing, and leading the City of Burlington through a 100-day resource extraction hearing on the Niagara Escarpment.
Throughout his career, Rod has been active in environmental law reform. He was a member of the 2004 Ontario executive panel appointed by the Minister of the Environment to reform Ontario environmental assessment for green energy, transit, and waste management. He was also a member of the Ontario task force to develop the province's two-million-acre greenbelt. Rod has been retained by the federal government to deal with law reform on the precautionary principle, applying environmental assessment to Crown corporations. For several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Rod provided advice and assistance to the then-Canadian International Development Agency on applying environmental assessment to projects outside Canada, including review of international and global assessment regimes and attendance at international discussions. He has also appeared before parliamentary and senate committees on the topics of environmental assessment and constitutional law.
Rod is an adjunct faculty member at Osgoode Hall Law School's Energy and Infrastructure Law LLM program for its course on environmental protection. He is recognized by his peers in national and international listings, for environmental law, including Lexpert, Who's Who Legal: The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in Canada.
Rod is author of the Guide to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (LexisNexis Canada), published annually, as well as the 1995 Annotated Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and EARP Guidelines Order (Carswell). He is also author of law journal articles on the integration of environmental and planning law in Ontario infrastructure, federalism and environmental law, the role of municipalities in Canada's energy strategies, and the fading role of alternatives in federal environmental assessment.
Panelist, Expert panel on Canada's environmental assessment process, appointed by the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, 2016-2017
Panelist, Advisory panel on GTA West, appointed by the Ontario Minister of Transportation, 2016-2017
Chair, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Greenbelt Fund, 2012-2016.
Adjunct Faculty Member for Osgoode Hall Law School, LL.M. programs for Municipal Law and Infrastructure, for courses on environmental protection, 2008-present