Questions swirl around Chilliwack land deals
Published Monday, March 31, 2008 6:41PM PDT
When John Les was mayor of Chilliwack, his city council denied the request by one property owner to turn his farm into a profitable real estate development.
But only months after Les had stepped down as mayor in 1999, Les himself made a similar application -- and succeeded, taking ownership of the property and then selling some of the 11 new properties for some $85,000 each.
It's only one of the real estate transactions in Chilliwack that are under a cloud of controversy after the RCMP revealed last week that then-Solicitor-General John Les was under investigation for any connection to land dealings in the Fraser Valley city.
The specifics of the investigation remain secret -- but the Les family has been involved in real estate and development in the Chilliwack area for a long time.
In 1997, a staff report went to Chilliwack City Council, recommending a zoning change applied for by James Acker, a property owner in the area.
Acker wanted to take his small farm on 10542 Bell Road in the Agricultural Land Reserve and create and sell a number of houses on the property.
After public opposition, the plan was shelved. But three years later, on May 2, 2000, John Les himself applied as a private citizen under a numbered B.C. company to develop the subdivisions.
Unlike Acker, Les was successful -- and on October 5, 2000, Les took ownership over the property from Acker, and subdivided it into 11 different lots.
The first two subdivisions alone sold for nearly $170,000.
John Les isn't the only member of his family into Chilliwack developments. His brother, Corney Les is a Chillwack-based Re/Max agent.
"I have no idea what's going on here," Corney Les told CTV News. "It's a mystery to me."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart