Business View Civil & Municipal | Volume 2, Issue 8

14 CIVIL AND MUNICIPAL VOLUME 2, ISSUE 8 GUEST Q&A BVM: What type of services do public sector clients request from a municipal law firm? Currie: “We assist municipalities with complex commercial agreements regarding provision of public services. We also assist them with by-law drafting and guiding them through municipal law, in general. Municipal law is a changing landscape, primarily with regard to how much power municipalities have with respect to controlling issues within their jurisdiction. Several Supreme Court of Canada decisions have indicated that municipal officials should be allowed great discretion on how they react to local issues in both a legislative and judicial review process. “Municipal law is a very unique discipline and oftentimes misunderstood. What people assume to be the law, may not be the law. Many municipalities are now really focusing on getting subject matter experts to deal with their legal issues. We are frequently engaged across Canada by large urban centers, medium-sized urban centers, and rural centers – all with their unique issues. Three emerging issues in Canada are indigenous development agreements with a sovereign framework within a municipal jurisdiction, rapid development, and transportation growth. The largest growth is transportation law. Municipalities will be faced with consequences of more and larger transportation companies and issues related to those entities. Airports will be affected as more goods flow through them. The laws regulating the airline, trucking, and rail industry, are changing; it’s an emerging area. And our office is experienced in all three of those areas.” BVM: Is everything legally able to be documented and signed digitally now? Does anything have to be done face to face? Currie: “There are two things happening in that realm. The first part is that most documents can now be verified and certified through a video conferenced signature. In addition we have a digital program which verifies a signature and sends us a certificate confirming the signature is valid. There are some very particular procedures to be followed but it can be done. There are special circumstances, such as land title documents which have been approved for video conferencing signature on an emergency basis, based upon the COVID circumstances. Now in some jurisdictions there is a standard set of documents you can sign electronically that is now statutorily allowed. For example, Wills. As long as they are correctly signed by video conference, you can now indicate that you saw them sign it via a video and they confirmed it with their signature. “In other jurisdictions, we even do court filings