Notable Matters

Here you can access all of our notable matters and learn about the different cases that we have worked on and/or have been involved in. Please feel free to use the below drop down menu to help access the different categories.


Featured Notable Matters

Victor Doyle

Successfully represented Mr. Victor Doyle, MES, MCIP, RPP, before the Public Service Grievance Board. Mr. Doyle is widely considered to be the “architect of the Greenbelt”, but was transferred to a redundant, meaningless research position after speaking with the media about the real numbers behind Ontario’s available land supply. In its October 26, 2018 decision the Board confirmed that the “independence and impartiality of professional advice is a critical part of the service that citizens have a right to expect from their public servants”.

Friends of Grand Trunk Ravine Inc.

Successfully represented a residents’ association opposed to a 31-unit, low density, sub-division on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal held: the proposed zoning by-law amendment and draft plan of subdivision do not maintain an ecological corridor connecting the MacMillan Estate Woodlot and Patterson Woodlot key natural heritage features and thereby do not protect natural heritage features and areas for the long term or restore ecological functions or the diversity and connectivity of natural features on the Moraine.


Represented the Huron-Wendat Nation during a six-year battle to save Skandatut, an internationally significant aboriginal cultural heritage site containing the archaeological remains of a large and heavily fortified, late sixteenth-century ancestral Huron-Wendat village, once considered the “capital” of central Ontario. Failed negotiations and a court challenge led Donnelly Law to obtain a rare Stop Work Order under the Ontario Heritage Act from the Ministry of Culture. The Vaughan site is now protected in perpetuity.

Building Kingston’s Future

Successfully represented a coalition of heritage groups in opposition to a proposed 18-storey tower on the historic Capital Theatre (Allen Bros) site located along Kingston’s premier heritage corridor, Princess Street. Argued three-week case before the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”), calling some of Canada’s leading planning, urban design and heritage experts.

Brimley Progress Development Inc.

Represented a developer owning property adjacent to a major industrial facility. Negotiated a settlement with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (as it then was) and City of Toronto permitting a doubling of the site’s density to four, 40-storey towers adjacent to the Scarborough Town Centre on the proposed new subway extension.

Rodney the Oysterman

Negotiated a creative solution for client after his property was negatively impacted by new development. The neighbour's addition created significant shadowing. David Donnelly negotiated the installation of a solar water heater at the expense of the neighbour to benefit the client for lost sunlight.

Big Bay Point OMB Mega-Marina Hearing

Following this contentious three-month OMB hearing, awareness of the need for anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) grew into the current law, the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014.  We also drafted the forerunner to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008.

Friends of the Fraser Wetlands Inc.

Successfully represented the Friends of Fraser Wetlands Inc. and Curve Lake First Nation. The clients were in opposition to an application for a 60-lot condominium development on a property with 6.2 km of untouched shoreline on Stony Lake, adjacent to two Provincially Significant Wetlands.  At a three-week hearing, the application was denied.

Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (“PALS”) and Ms Jean Grandoni

Successfully represented both PALS and Ms Grandoni in a thirteen-day OMB hearing challenging the City of Niagara Falls’ approval of a major urban boundary expansion onto prime agricultural land (suitable for grape, apple and pear production) adjacent to the Greenbelt.  The OMB denied the application. Argued successfully against the City's subsequent Ontario Court of Justice judicial review application to overturn the OMB decision, with costs against the City.

Stewards of the Moraine Inc.

Successfully represented the Stewards of the Moraine Inc., an association of local property owners, in its opposition to a planning application for a massive outdoor wedding/banquet facility in King Township in the protected “Countryside Area” of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.  The OMB agreed with the Stewards that the proposed wedding/banquet facility is not a recreational use and thus is not an appropriate development on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The application was denied.

Oak Ridges Moraine Ontario Municipal Board Hearing, Richmond Hill

Successfully represented Save the Rouge Valley System Inc. during a twelve-month OMB hearing. The case was a victory for protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine, with the cancellation of a 5,000 home development on the Moraine and the enactment of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 and Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act, 2001. 

Nelson Aggregate Co. Joint Board Hearing, Mount Nemo

Successfully represented Sarah Harmer and Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (“PERL”) during a twelve-month OMB hearing in opposition to a massive, below-water table quarry that included Jefferson Salamander habitat in Burlington, Ontario.  The Joint Board denied the 26-million tonne quarry application.  Mount Nemo is saved from future extraction.  Donnelly Law coordinated PERL’s case with its expert witnesses, including a planner, biologist, and two hydrogeologists

Walker Aggregates Inc., Duntroon

Represented the Clearview Community Coalition (“CCC”) in its fight to stop a massive 42-million tonne aggregate quarry on the Brow of the Niagara Escarpment. Major issues of concern to CCC included haul route safety and noise. After a 15-month hearing, an unusual split decision (2-1) of the Joint Board approved the quarry but reduced the quarry footprint to preserve sensitive environmental features, including Ontario’s largest colony of the species of Special Concern, the American Hart’s Tongue Fern.

Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization

Currently representing cottagers and residents of the Township of Muskoka Lakes opposed to a proposed 200,000 tonnes/annum below water table granite pit and quarry adjacent to the oligotrophic (ultra-sensitive) Skeleton Lake. Donnelly Law organized a four-person expert team and responses to technical deficiencies in the application, and deputed to Council, resulting in a 9-0 Council vote to oppose the re-zoning. According to Mr. Gord Miller, ecologist, the quarry “could significantly alter the character and ecology of the lake”. A three-week LPAT hearing is expected in 2019.

M.A.Q. Aggregates Inc., Grey County

Represented Grey Matters in their fight to stop the proposed 247-acre, 1-million tonnes per year quarry adjacent to the Niagara Escarpment Plan area. Donnelly Law helped prepare the expert evidence of hydrogeologist, Daryl Cowell. The OMB allowed the quarry, but required a larger buffer zone the American Hart’s Tongue Fern, a key component of the case.

Walkerton Commission of Inquiry, 2001: 

Represented the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund (“CEDF”) and the Safe Drinking Water Coalition at the Inquiry. The Coalition included representatives from Pollution Probe, CEDF and First Nations. David Donnelly worked to facilitate the involvement of coalition members at the Inquiry.  

Seaton Land Exchange

Successfully negotiated a major land securement agreement with the Ontario Realty Corporation as part of the Seaton Land Exchange, in Pickering Ontario.  Four ancient Huron-Wendat village sites were identified through a Class Environmental Assessment and preserved. In honour of Ms Heather Bastien’s advocacy on behalf of her nation, one of the sites was re-named the “Sebastien” site. Artefacts from the 2.5 hectares (6 acres) site have been firmly dated to the Middle Iroquoian period (A.D. 1275-1325).