The Grant Sanborn saga finally ended Wednesday, but not before a Supreme Court justice said Chilliwack city hall's "pro-development culture" under former mayor John Les failed the public.
Justice Miriam Maisonville agreed Wednesday to a joint submission by prosecutors and the defence that will see Sanborn, the city's former director of development, avoid jail for approving illegal land deals in Chilliwack in the 1990s.
During sentencing submissions last week, Maisonville heard that Chilliwack's pro-development city hall used "creative" approaches while Les was mayor to get around provincial land rules.
On Wednesday, Maisonville derided the practice.
"During the 1990s in particularthe timeframe of the countsthe mayor of Chilliwack and council were seen as pro-development," she said. "Creativity in the office, to use the words of council, was a word applied to the manner in which many applications were dealt with.
"But creativity, I find, was used as a euphemism for approving without scrutiny," Maisonville continued. "The pervasive way of thinking at the development department was wrong, but followed. Eventually, a culture emerged that was of the view that the numerous existing safeguards in place . . . were seen as guides and were ignored.
"Rather than a culture of pro-development, it is better described as a culture that failed the public interest."
The sentencing brings to an end a drawn out investigation and prosecution that began in 2007, when an investigation into Chilliwack land deals revealed a connection to Les, who was mayor between 1987 and 1999 and now serves as Chilliwack MLA.
Although Les was never charged, Sanborn was. In 2010, he was charged with three counts of breach of trust in connection with development deals that took place while he was approving officer at city hall.
Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to lesser, non-criminal offences. He admitted that, by approving several subdivisions that breached provincial rules, he violated the Agricultural Land Commission Act and the Land Titles Act. One of those developments, on Rosebank Place, was co-owned by Les.
Maisonville handed Sanborn six months of probation and 150 hours of community service, and ordered him to donate $5,000 to Ruth & Naomi's Mission.
In agreeing to the joint submission, Maisonville said there was no suggestion that Sanborn received any monetary or other benefit from approving Les's subdivision or others. She also said there is no evidence that Sanborn was pressured by Les.
Rather, she said, "generally real estate development was treated favourably, often at the expense of bylaws and laws."
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