Plea expected to end trial of former Chilliwack city planner

Grant Sanborn won't plead guilty to breach of trust charges, but will plead guilty to a "regulatory offense," says his lawyer.

Former city planner Grant Sanborn is not pleading guilty to breach of trust charges, as may have been inferred by an earlier version of this story.

“He’s pleading not guilty to breach of trust, but guilty to a regulatory offense,” defense lawyer Jeffrey Campbell said Tuesday.

The following story has been edited to reflect the clarification

A sentencing date for a former Chilliwack city official originally charged with breach of trust has been set for Aug. 21.

A four-week trial had been scheduled to hear the case against Grant Sanborn, but that all appeared to change after a meeting Monday of Crown and defense lawyers.

“It’s likely there won’t be a trial,” Robin McFee, the special prosecutor who laid the charges, confirmed Tuesday.

He said the accused is expected to enter a plea at the Aug. 21 hearing followed immediately by sentencing.

But defense lawyer Jeffrey Campbell clarified that his client will be pleading guilty only to a regulatory offense, not to the original breach of trust charges.

“It’s not going to involve any criminal code conviction,” he said.

McFee said the plea and sentencing would have occurred Monday, but there was not enough court time to hear lawyers’ submissions, so the hearing was adjourned to Aug. 21.

Sanborn was originally charged in June, 2010 with three counts of breach of trust after a three-year investigation by McFee into allegations of improper land-use decisions in Chilliwack from 1987 to November 1999.

The special prosecutor was called in after the name of a local politician, Chilliwack MLA John Les, surfaced during the RCMP investigation of the allegations.

McFee found “a paucity of evidence” to base charges against Les, but enough to charge Sanborn with “failure to fulfill his independent gatekeeper role” as the city’s approving officer.

A lengthy trial with numerous witnesses was anticipated in 2012, but in February a new defense lawyer asked for an adjournment to give him time to study the case. The request was denied.

The next month, Sanborn re-elected to hold the trial in Supreme Court, rather than provincial court, a move that could have delayed the trial for as much as a year because of the heavy court backlog.