James Ayres

In Association

10 King St. E., Suite 600
Toronto Ontario M5C 1C3

Environmental Law   |   Municipal Law   |   Elections Law

James Ayres, senior counsel practising in association with Massey LLP, is a veteran municipal law lawyer and environmental law lawyer.

With a focus on land use planning/land development, municipal governance, expropriation, environmental approvals, climate change and conservation, litigation and waste management, Jim has established himself as the go-to lawyer in his practice areas. He also handles environmental due diligence aspects of corporate finance, securities transactions, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Jim’s skill and dedication make him an asset in navigating complex environmental law, municipal law, and elections law matters.

Unique Skills and Attributes

Jim is a highly accomplished municipal law lawyer and environmental law lawyer whose extensive knowledge offers clients a distinct advantage in navigating the complexities of both specialized legal areas.

Jim is widely recognized for his deep experience in municipal law, where he excels in providing invaluable counsel to developers, property owners, ratepayers, municipalities, and councillors. He brings an understanding of the intricacies of municipal governance, enabling him to offer tailored advice on various matters. From development agreements and by-law powers to prosecutions, municipal liability, and conflict of interest, Jim’s comprehensive know-how and strategic guidance empower his clients to make informed decisions.

In the realm of environmental law, Jim is a force to be reckoned with. His insights into the ever-evolving landscape of environmental regulations and policies are invaluable to corporate clients seeking advice on environmental risk management, regulatory compliance, and corporate governance, property realizations and bankruptcies. Jim’s ability to assess potential environmental risks and develop proactive strategies sets him apart as a trusted advisor in the field.

What truly distinguishes Jim as a trusted municipal law lawyer and environmental law lawyer is his strong courtroom presence and advocacy skills. He has appeared before the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court, and the Ontario Court of Justice, consistently delivering compelling arguments and securing favourable outcomes for his clients. Additionally, Jim is a respected presence before municipal councils, tribunals, and boards, including the Ontario Municipal Board. His ability to navigate these forums effectively ensures that his clients’ voices are heard, and their interests protected.

Prior to establishing his sole practice in 2012, Ayers Law Professional Corporation, Jim held prominent positions that shaped his legal acumen, including partner at two large Toronto firms.

He acted as counsel for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and to the Niagara Escarpment Commission and was a deputy director of titles for the Real Property Registration Branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Jim represented the province at Parts I and II of the Walkerton Inquiry. He has also been retained to represent the government at coroner’s inquests.

Further, Jim has acted as environmental and municipal counsel for the developer of a significant 900-acre energy park. He is external counsel to Elections Ontario.

Professional Associations

Jim is active as a member of professional organizations including the Ontario Bar Association (OBA), the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and the Advocates’ Society.

In addition to his legal practice, Jim speaks frequently at seminars on environmental and municipal matters.

Throughout his career, Jim has held various leadership roles and served on boards and committees. From 2014 to 2018, he chaired the compliance audit committee for the City of Toronto, while also holding cross-appointments to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)

Additionally, Jim has made significant contributions to the Lambda Alpha International – Simcoe (Toronto) Chapter, a land economics organization, where he served as president, board member, and member at large since 2005

Jim’s involvement in municipal matters extends beyond Toronto. He served as a member and vice chair of the committee of adjustment for the City of Kawartha Lakes from 2006 to 2014, demonstrating his dedication to thoughtful planning and development in the region. Furthermore, he actively participated as a member of the Compliance audit committee for the City of Kawartha Lakes from 2018 to 2022. During his tenure, Jim also served as a member of the drainage board for the City of Kawartha Lakes from 2007 to 2010, contributing to the effective management of water resources.

Recognized for his experience in land use planning and regulatory matters, Jim was a member of the Ontario Association of Committees of Adjustment and Consent Authorities (OACA) from 2006 to 2014.

He also held executive positions within the municipal and environmental law sections of the OBA, further demonstrating his commitment to staying at the forefront of legal developments in these fields.

Awards and Accolades

Jim is a certified specialist by the Law Society of Ontario in environmental law and municipal and planning law.


Jim earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the University of Windsor in 1982.
A graduate of Trent University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) Jim was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1984.

Jim articled with the Ministry of the Attorney General and practised with the ministry for five years. Jim was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1984.

He continued his education in 2008, earning a certificate in business essentials for lawyers from the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. The same year Jim also earned a certificate in carbon finance from the U of T Centre for Environment.

In 2015, Jim earned a certificate in mediation from Harvard University.

Meet our Toronto lawyers

You’ll find the Toronto lawyers at Massey LLP are friendly, compassionate, and committed to delivering timely, practical, and cost‐effective legal services.