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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy

John Georgakopoulos

Partner
Certified Environmental Law Specialist

T: 416-862-4826  E: jgeorgakopoulos@willmsshier.com

Bio

John Georgakopoulos resolves complex environmental legal issues for clients, uniquely drawing on his technical knowledge as a former senior environmental scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. John is called to the bars of Ontario and Alberta.

Environmental Risk and Liability Protection

John advises corporations, directors and officers on environmental risks and liabilities regarding real estate and corporate/commercial transactions. He has particular expertise advising industrial manufacturers, property developers and REITs about brownfields and contaminated land. John’s strategic advice helps protect clients against corporate and personal environmental liabilities including civil claims, regulatory orders, prosecutions and fines.

Regulatory Approvals and Compliance

John guides clients through the complex regulatory environment, assisting with regulatory approvals for air, waste and water. He provides strategic advice to help clients maintain compliance with environmental laws. John negotiates with regulators on behalf of clients to avoid or minimize regulatory action, including prosecutions, orders, fines and penalties. He assists clients with regulatory inspections and investigations.

Environmental Litigation

  • Defence of environmental prosecutions
  • Administrative appeals and hearings
  • Environmental civil litigation

John represents clients in regulatory and civil proceedings about contaminated soil and groundwater, nuisance, air, noise, waste and odour issues. John appears before Ontario courts and tribunals. He is also retained by litigation counsel as an environmental expert.

Clean Tech, Climate Change, and Emissions Trading

John advises clients on importing and exporting of new products and substances, and on emissions trading and greenhouse gas reporting.

Prior Environmental Experience

Prior to becoming a lawyer, John was a senior environmental scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

At the MOECC, John twice received the Ministry’s Emerald Award for superior quality service and environmental protection.

Clients

Industrial corporations, including waste management, food processing, petroleum processing, steel manufacturing, auto manufacturing and chemical manufacturing

  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs) & portfolio companies
  • Land developers, property owners, landlords, tenants
  • Directors and officers and other individuals
  • Corporate and commercial lawyers
  • Financial institutions and insurers
  • Estates and estate trustees
  • Transit authorities
  • Municipalities
  • Mining & exploration companies

Representative Work

Environmental Risk and Liability Protection

  • Environmental Due Diligence on Share Purchase—Provided strategic legal advice to a multinational industrial client on a $1.65 billion share purchase. Represented the client during negotiations concerning environmental risks and liabilities associated with complex industrial facilities impacting the transaction.
  • Strategic Environmental Law Advice for a REIT—Advising a real estate investment trust with a portfolio value of approximately $2 billion about environmental risks and liabilities associated with its portfolio. Created action plan for addressing and ranking environmental issues and setting priorities for action to deal with environmental risks and liabilities as part of the client’s environmental management program.
  • Procurement of Financing to Develop Contaminated Site—Assisted a developer client to obtain $10 million in construction financing for commercial development on contaminated land. Prepared submission to lender explaining potential exposure to environmental liability associated with the transaction.
  • Municipal Acquisition of Federal Harbour—Advised a municipality about potential environmental risks, obligations and liabilities  (civil and regulatory) associated with the client’s acquisition of a federal harbour with contamination issues. Advised on environmental terms to be negotiated in the divestiture agreement to address environmental liability.
  • Environmental Law Advice to Estate and Estate Trustees—Provided environmental legal advice to estates and estate trustees to minimize and manage environmental liabilities associated with contaminated property held by the estate.

Regulatory Approvals and Compliance

  • Environmental Regulatory Compliance Advice to Major Petroleum Company—Advised a multinational oil and gas company about responding to complex regulatory matters concerning industrial environmental approvals. Responded to regulatory investigations and neighbouring complaints. Guided client through inspections, investigations and requirements by the environmental regulator, resulting in the client avoiding regulatory enforcement action.
  • Environmental Regulatory Advice to International Steel Manufacturer—Advising a steel manufacturing client about regulatory requirements for air, noise, odour and waste management issues. Assisting client to obtain regulatory approvals including an Environmental Compliance Approval for an on-site landfill.
  • Response to Federal Investigations of On–Road and Off-Road Vehicle and Engine Importers—Represented on-road and off-road engine and vehicle importers during investigations about compliance with federal air emissions standards. Prepared due diligence submissions, resulting in closure of the investigations without regulatory prosecution.

Environmental Litigation

  • Defence of ECA Appeal Before the Environmental Review Tribunal—Defending the appeal of a client’s Environmental Compliance Approval for a wastewater treatment system and stormwater system before Ontario’s ERT.
  • Appeal of ECAs for Food Manufacturers—Representing multiple food manufacturing clients to oppose the issuance of Environmental Compliance Approvals to a neighbouring industrial operation with high environmental risk.
  • Settlement of Environmental Civil Litigation About Contaminant Migration—Represented commercial property owners to negotiate a settlement in favour of the clients in excess of $1 million for migration of contamination from a former gas station onto the clients’ properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Recognition

Organizations

  • Hellenic Canadian Lawyers’ Association—Vice President and Board Member (2009-)
  • Ontario Bar Association and Canadian Bar Association—member (2008-)
  • Air & Waste Management Association—Board Member, Ontario Section (2011-)
  • Canadian Brownfields Network—member (2015-)

 

Speaking Engagements

June 13, 2018

Canadian Brownfields Network National Brownfields Summit: Charting the Future

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May 10, 2018

CANECT 2018 - Implementing a GHG Reduction and Energy Efficiency Program

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May 09, 2018

CANECT 2018 - Managing Industrial Air Emissions

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October 11, 2017 to October 13, 2017

RemTech 2017 - The Dirt on Excess Soil

More
April 27, 2017

Maxxam Science Summit 2017: Soil Vapour, Site Assessment & Remediation

More
May 03, 2017

CANECT 2017 - Waste Management, Diversion & Stewardship

More
May 02, 2017

CANECT 2017 - Air, NOD & GHGs: Emissions Regulations & Compliance

More
March 21, 2017

Environmental Law: How Are You Impacted? (St. Catharines Session)

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March 28, 2017

Environmental Law: How Are You Impacted? (Kitchener Session)

More
March 29, 2017

Licensed Engineering Practitioners' Liability Under the New EASR

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January 18, 2017

CBA/OBA Climate Change Legislation: Cross-Country Check-In Program

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October 13, 2016

Connecting Climate Change to Brownfield Redevelopment, RemTech 2016

More
September 26, 2016

30th Annual Conference on Transportation Innovation and Cost Savings

More
June 14, 2016

Canadian Brownfields Network Conference: Brownfields - Revitalizing In A Changing Climate

More
May 10, 2016

2016 Land & Development Conference - Climate & Urbanism: How Is It Affecting Communities and Developments?

More
April 26, 2016

CANECT 2016 - Air, NOD & GHGs: Emissions Regulations & Compliance

More
April 27, 2016

CANECT 2016 - Waste Management, Diversion & Stewardship

More
December 02, 2015

Envirogate 2015: Managing Air and GHG Emissions - The New Essentials

More
November 05, 2015

OBA Passport Series: Best Practices for Environmental Management Systems

More
October 14, 2015

Managing Environmental Liabilities: Brownfields Case Law Update, RemTech 2015

More
October 07, 2015

A&WMA and ONEIA 2015 Waste Conference: Waste Management and GHG Reduction

More
October 21, 2015

The Law Society of Upper Canada: The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2015

More
June 17, 2015

Canadian Brownfields Network Conference: Brownfields Redevelopment: Past Successes, Future Plans

More
June 16, 2015

Land & Development Conference: The Challenges in the Industrial Market: Minimizing and Managing Environmental Liabilities: Getting the Deal Done

More
May 14, 2015

Air & Waste Management Association: Land Use Compatibility between Sensitive Land Uses and Nuisance Sources

More
April 29, 2015

CANECT 2015 - Waste Management, Reduction, Diversion & Stewardship

More
April 28, 2015

CANECT 2015 - Complying with New Rules for Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More
November 25, 2014

Envirogate 2014: Dealing with Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More
November 04, 2014

CCCA: Maneuvering Through Troubling Times for Directors and Officers

More
June 10, 2014

OWMA: Maneuvering Through Troubling Times for Directors and Officers

More
April 30, 2014

OBA: Developments in D&O Liability for Environmental Contamination

More
May 13, 2014

Real Estate Forum's 10th Annual Land & Development Conference

John Georgakopoulos will be speaking at the 10th Annual Land & Development Conference on "Developing Challenged Sites: The Need for Innovative Strategies and Patience". The panel will discuss maximizing development opportunities from brownfields and contaminated sites. From purchase to development, they will explore what you need to know regarding these challenged sites.

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April 10, 2014

Air & Waste Management Association: What is waste? Definition of waste?

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April 28, 2014

CANECT 2014: What is Waste? What Should be Waste?

More
April 29, 2014

CANECT 2014: Air Emissions

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February 19, 2014

Sites & Spills Conference: Dealing with Environmental Consultant Blunders

More
November 27, 2013

What is "Waste?" What Impact Does This Have on Compliance?, Envirogate

More
October 17, 2013

Vapour Intrusion - Regulatory Framework and Case Law Review, RemTech 2013

More
September 11, 2013

Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Air & Waste Management Association

More
October 09, 2013

The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2013, Law Society of Upper Canada

More
April 29, 2013 to May 01, 2013

21st Annual CANECT 2013

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April 09, 2013

Environmental Liability Seminar, EcoLog Events

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November 14, 2012

Fracking and the Management of Waste, Canadian Waste Sector Symposium

More
November 08, 2012

Shale Gas and Fracking: An International Perspective, International Sites and Spills Expo 2012

More
December 05, 2012

Envirogate – Dealing with Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More
  • NPC 300: Legal Implications of the Draft Guideline, Air & Waste Management Association (Ontario Section), May 8, 2012
  • Greenhouse Gases - Legal Update, 20th Annual Canadian Environmental Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2012), Air & GHG Emissions, May 1, 2012
  • The Regulation of Shale Gas Fracking in Canada, University of Toronto, Environmental Law Club, March 22, 2012
  • Shale Gas Development: Shale Gas Basics, Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) Ontario Section, Hamilton Breakfast Series, March 8, 2012
  • The New Framework for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 19th Annual Canadian Environmental Compliance Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2011), Air & GHG Emissions, May 17, 2011
  • Toxic Air Emissions: Federal, Ontario, Municipal Updates, Envirogate, Dealing with Industrial AIR and GHG Emissions, November 23, 2010
  • Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act: Legal Implications, Canadian Pollution Prevention, Roundtable, June 3, 2010
  • The Environmental Law and Enforcement Framework, 18th Annual Canadian Environmental Compliance Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2010), Inspections & Investigations, May 5, 2010
  • Toxics Reduction Act: Legal Implications, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), Environmental and Energy Conference, March 31, 2010
  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments: Avoiding Pitfalls and Perils, Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (AESAC), October 3, 2008

Articles

March 16, 2018

Cumulative Effects Assessment: Ontario forges new policy to protect local air quality

More
February 14, 2018

Ontario Clarifies Administrative Penalty Regime Under Climate Change Legislation

More
January 31, 2018

Ontario Sets the Stage for Greenhouse Gas Offset Credits

More
November 30, 2017

Like Oil and Water: Courts Struggle to Mix Bankruptcy and Environmental Law – SCC to Hear Redwater Appeal

More
December 12, 2016

Canada and Most Provinces Agree to Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

More
November 11, 2016

Proposed Amendments to Environmental Legislation: Streamlined Approvals and Other Updates

More
November 11, 2016

Burden Reduction Act to Streamline Environmental Approvals and Compliance Checks

More
November 11, 2016

Making Environmental Approvals EAS(ie)R?

More
October 04, 2016

Canada Announces National Carbon Pricing by 2018

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October 04, 2016

Ontario’s Climate Change Expectations for Projects Undergoing Environmental Assessment

More
August 31, 2016

Canadian Industrial Facilities to Face National Air Standards for First Time

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July 28, 2016

Canada to Introduce Plan for National Carbon Pricing

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July 26, 2016

Alberta Provides Guidance on Use of Exposure Control to Manage Risks at Contaminated Sites

More
July 21, 2016

MOECC’s Policy Review on Air Pollution, Fracking, Spills and Waste Diversion

More
June 21, 2016

Will the Redwater Decision Encourage Reckless Abandon(ment) of Oil and Gas Wells in Alberta?

More
April 27, 2016

Alberta’s New Remediation Requirements In Effect On May 1, 2016

More
April 27, 2016

Alberta’s Environmental Site Assessment Standard – New Guidance For Consultants and Property Owners

More
March 21, 2016

Ontario’s Cap and Trade Update

More
March 07, 2016

Building Owners Concerned About Proposed Energy and Water Regulation

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February 23, 2016

Insurer off-the-hook for Release of Pollutants Caused by Fire

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November 30, 2015

Waste-Free Ontario Act: Ontario's Proposed New Waste Reduction Regime

More
November 19, 2015

Ontario Releases Details on Proposed Cap and Trade Program

More
November 18, 2015

Ministry Updates Air Dispersion Models and Will Provide Advance Warning of Any Future Changes

More
November 12, 2015

COP21 and the New Reality of Ontario’s Cap-and-Trade Vision

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May 01, 2015

Supreme Court of Canada to Hear Fracking Case on Regulator Immunity

More
November 18, 2014

Alberta Court Rules Novel Fracking Claim Against Province Has Reasonable Prospect of Success

More
November 11, 2014

Largest Penalty in U.S. Clean Air Act History for Underreporting Emissions and Fuel Economy

More
September 19, 2014

Alberta Court of Appeal Upholds Regulator’s Immunity in Fracking Case

More
June 26, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court GHG Decision Paves Way for New Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions Regulations

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May 01, 2014

Council of Canadian Academies Raises Questions on Environmental Impacts of Fracking – Current Regulations not Based on Strong Science

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March 11, 2014

Ontario’s New Air Standard for Pulp and Paper Operations and Guidelines for Large Wood-Fired Combustors

More
February 13, 2014

Federal Budget 2014 Largely Quiet on Major Energy, Environment and Aboriginal Initiatives

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December 09, 2013

Special Fracking Update

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December 09, 2013

Ontario Updates Noise Guideline to Harmonize Approvals and Land Use Planning Decisions

More
December 09, 2013

MOE Freezes Waste Diversion Fees for Off-road Tires

More
April 09, 2013

Consultant Liability and Common Pitfalls

Consultant liability is a hot topic that permeates the environmental consulting world. John Georgakopoulos spoke on the topic at EcoLog Legislation’s Environmental iability Seminar on April 9, 2013 in Toronto.

More
  • “Environmental Undertakings: Making the Deal Stick”, 6th Annual Real Estate Law Summit (Toronto: LSUC, April 2009) [Co-authored with Donna Shier]
  • “Commercial Lease Provisions: Allocating Liability for Contamination and Environmental Remediation”, The Six-Minute Commercial Leasing Lawyer (Toronto: LSUC, February 2009) [Co-authored with Marc McAree]
  • “Direct Sales: A Common Challenge for Lawyers and Title Agents”, The Six-Minute Real Estate Lawyer (Toronto: LSUC, November 2007) [Co-authored with Kathleen Waters of LawPRO]
  • Storage Tanks in Canada: The Guide to Environmental Regulation and Compliance (Toronto: Templegate Information Services Inc., 2006) [Editor, drafter and researcher for Douglas Petrie of Willms & Shier]
  • “Monitoring and Regulation of Odours – An Oxymoron?” (Oak Brook, IL: Air and Waste Management Association Conference, 2005) [Co-authored with John Willms of Willms & Shier]
  • “The Evolution of Air Emissions Inventories in Ontario, Canada” (Clearwater, FL: USEPA International Conference, 2004) [Co-authored with Peter Wong and Nicholas Ting of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment]
  • 2001 Inventory of Toxic Air Emissions: Point, Area and Mobile Sources (Ann Arbor, MI: Great Lakes Commission/USEPA, 2004) [Co-editor and Author of the Ontario Chapter]

Education

  • Certified as a Specialist in Environmental Law by the Law Society of Ontario (2016)
  • Called to the bars of Ontario (2008), Alberta (2013)

  • LL.B., University of Ottawa (2007)

  • M.Sc., Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto (1999)

  • B.Sc. (Hons.), Environmental Science and Management, University of Toronto (1997)

 

Expertise

"The firm is one of, if not the best enviro law firm in the country ..."

Senior Litigation Counsel