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ABC Vancouver spent $2M to elect Ken Sim and running mates

Elections BC posted civic election financial disclosure documents Thursday to its website.
Mayor Ken Sim and his ABC Vancouver party, including re-elected councillors Lisa Dominato, Sarah Kirby-Yung and Rebecca Bligh, spent just over $2 million to elect all of the party’s candidates in October 2022.

The Vancouver civic party that elected all of its candidates in October 2022 for mayor, city council, school trustee and park board commissioner spent just over $2 million in its sweep to power, according to documents posted Thursday on the Elections BC website.

The documents show A Better City Vancouver spent $1,695,452 on the mayoral, council and park board commissioner campaigns and $402,610 to get its school board candidates elected Oct. 15.

The expenses totalled $316,017 more than the party’s total income — $1.4 million — for the campaign, which was ABC’s first as a party.

The documents break down total income between campaign contributions ($1,008,687) and other income ($414,003) not considered campaign contributions.

Ken Sim contributed $275,000

More than half of the $414,003 — a total of $275,000 — was contributed by Ken Sim, who was elected mayor after defeating Kennedy Stewart.

Re-elected councillors Lisa Dominato ($80,000), Rebecca Bligh ($25,100), Sarah Kirby-Yung ($30,874) and newly elected councillor Peter Meiszner ($2,917) rounded out the $414,003 sum.

ABC Vancouver’s biggest expenses — minus the school trustee campaign portion — included $321,613 in “professional services.” Another $110,652 was spent on radio advertising — much of it targeting Stewart’s so-called “road tax” — and $77,002 on promotional materials such as brochures and buttons.

A total $76,245 was spent on signs and less than $6,000 on social media.

For the school trustee campaign, the biggest expenses were $91,889 for “professional services,” $31,614 on radio advertising and more than $42,000 on promotional materials and signs.

Total value of contributions to all ABC campaigns that were $100 or more was $1,354,885 and almost $15,000 came from donors who gave under $100 per contribution, according to the documents, which list 63 pages of contributors.

Union and corporate donations are banned from campaigns but individuals can give up to $1,250 per year to a party, or candidate. Rules do not preclude family members or relatives from each donating the maximum sum.

Lululemon founder a contributor

Contributors to ABC were from across the city and represented various businesses and organizations, including developers and company CEOs Michael Audain (Polygon), Jon Stovell (Reliance), Ian Gillespie (Westbank), Jacqui Cohen (Army and Navy) and Dennis “Chip” Wilson (Lululemon founder). All gave $1,250 in 2022.

Glacier Media made requests Wednesday and Thursday to speak to an ABC Vancouver spokesperson to comment on the cost of the campaign but had not heard back before this story was posted.

Meanwhile, the mayor that Sim defeated — Kennedy Stewart — spent $1,092,573 in an attempt to get re-elected and have six of his Forward Together council candidates, including his wife Jeanette Ashe, join him at city hall.

Documents show Stewart’s party had a total income of $618,081. A separate document for Stewart himself shows $144,332 in separate contributions. It’s unclear whether that sum was included in the party’s total income or in addition.

The Green Party of Vancouver, which holds two seats on city council, two on school board and one on park board spent $116,528 and had an income of $87,921, according to the documents. A separate school board campaign document for the Greens shows the party spent $45,203, with an income of $41,291.

OneCity, which is represented by Christine Boyle on council and Jennifer Reddy on school board, spent $354,216 in the campaign, and had an income of $244,566. A separate document for the school board campaign shows $81,460 in expenses and an income of $28,895.