Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

From Beyonce to Blue Rodeo: The 'gifts' Vancouver's mayor has declared since 2022

Beyonce, Guns N' Roses, Boyz II Men, Ed Sheeran among concerts attended by Ken Sim.
Ken Sim was given free tickets worth hundreds of dollars to several concerts since he was elected mayor in October 2022.

It is no secret that Mayor Ken Sim loves music.

He keeps a record player in his office, where his collection of albums includes Queen, The Police, John Cougar, Public Enemy, David Bowie, AC/DC and Judas Priest.

At one time, he owned every single Van Halen album.

And, of course, he’s a big Rolling Stones fan, having produced a special video and event on the city hall campus the day he heard the legendary band announced it would make a stop July 5 at BC Place Stadium.

Sim addressed his comments to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

“In Vancouver, we have the biggest Rolling Stones’ fans and they are going to lose their shit next summer when you guys are rocking it out at BC Place,” said the mayor, who wore a Stones’ baseball cap in the video.

“So thanks for being awesome and thanks for bringing your swagger to Vancouver.”

Sim, who also owns a pair of Stones’ socks, will attend the concert.

But will he pay for the ticket? Or will someone give him a free one?

The questions arise after Glacier Media reviewed “gift” disclosures filed at city hall by Sim since he was sworn in as mayor in November 2022.

The mayor, councillors and city staff are obliged to declare any gifts or personal benefits they accept where the value exceeds $50.

Free tickets to concerts was the primary reason Sim filled out most of the forms.

So who did he go see?

Beyonce, Guns N’ Roses, Boyz II Men, Billy Idol, Ed Sheeran and Blue Rodeo.

The $500 worth of tickets to Beyonce on Sept. 11, 2023 were courtesy of Chris May, the general manager of BC Place Stadium.

In explaining circumstances under which the gift or personal benefit was received and accepted, Sim wrote: “Invitation to event to meet other elected officials.”

In another form, Sim wrote that May gave him $1,500 worth of tickets to Beyonce but that he “disposed of gift.” May also provided tickets to Sim for Guns N’ Roses on Oct. 16, 2023 and Ed Sheeran on Sept. 2, 2023.

'Disposed of gift'

The forms for both concerts show a pattern of accepting tickets and disposing of others. For example, Sim said in one entry that he “disposed of gift” for $475 tickets to Guns N’ Roses, but in a separate form said he kept a $95 ticket to attend the concert.

In explaining his reason for accepting the ticket and attending the concert, Sim wrote: “Research — concert/events hosting in Vancouver.”

Glacier Media contacted the mayor’s office for clarification on Sim’s disclosure forms, which included declaring hundreds of dollars’ worth of tickets to Boyz II Men, Billy Idol and Blue Rodeo offered by Shelley Frost, the PNE’s president and CEO.

The bands performed during the PNE’s “summer nights” concert series.

In an email, Sim’s office said the term “disposed” means that he did not use the tickets himself.

“Instead, he distributed them to various individuals, including business leaders, community leaders, city staff and other elected officials from neighbouring municipalities, including other mayors,” the mayor’s office said.

“The mayor adhered to all appropriate procedures by disclosing the tickets and recording their disposition.”

'Admiration for Vancouver's local music scene'

For the concerts where the mayor received free tickets — Beyonce, Guns N’ Roses, Boyz II Men, Billy Idol and Ed Sheeran — his office said he also purchased his own tickets for guests to help support the event.

Two disclosure forms Sim filed indicate he received tickets worth $198 and $397 to Blue Rodeo from Frost, but “disposed of gift.” The mayor’s office said Sim bought his own tickets to Blue Rodeo and attended the concert.

He has also purchased his own tickets for the upcoming Rolling Stones concert.

“This demonstrates his admiration for Vancouver's local music scene and commitment to promoting arts and culture,” the mayor’s office said. “These events make Vancouver a vibrant, exciting city and they also help draw in more people, investment and attractions to our city.”

In addition, the mayor’s office said, Sim has purchased tickets to “numerous concerts and sporting events” and given them to City of Vancouver employees and “other individuals in the community, expressing his gratitude for their hard work and ensuring they have an opportunity to enjoy what our city has to offer.”

The Vancouver Charter and Code of Conduct state that a council member may only accept a gift or personal benefit received as an incident of protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the responsibilities of elected office.

Council members must not otherwise directly or indirectly accept a fee, gift or personal benefit that is connected with the member's performance of the duties of office. Gifts and personal benefits are items or services of value that are received by council members for their personal use.

'Promote and amplify'

Glacier Media contacted BC Pavilion Corporation (BC PavCo) and the PNE to understand the rationale for May and Frost to give the mayor free tickets to concerts at BC Place Stadium and the PNE.

Both provided emailed statements.

BC PavCo confirmed the mayor attended “various events” at BC Place as part of “our normal stakeholder outreach program.” One of Sim’s disclosure forms indicates he received two tickets worth $689.10 to the 2024 HSBC Vancouver Sevens rugby series.

“Any stakeholder invitations to events at our venues are provided on behalf of PavCo and not any individual employee,” BC PavCo said.

PavCo said that as part of its normal course of business, it receives tickets for "stakeholder outreach purposes" by event promoters who hold events at the Crown corporation's venues.

In turn, PavCo’s statement continued, the corporation invites “industry and business partners, stakeholders, government and elected officials, charitable organizations and members of the public to help promote and amplify these events and boost our overall tourism and hospitality industry.”

'Thought leaders in our city'

Laura Ballance, a spokesperson for the PNE, said for many decades it has been normal practice to invite Vancouver’s mayor and council to concerts during the annual fair.

The PNE regularly extends invitations to business clients, board members, elected officials from across the region, sponsors and other stakeholders to the fair’s summer night concerts, Ballance said.

She clarified that although the tickets to the mayor were offered by Frost, they are, in fact, extended on behalf of the PNE and consider the offering “a valuable opportunity to showcase the PNE Fair to thought leaders in our city.” 

Added Ballance: “I think it’s important to note that Mayor Sim purchases tickets to many of the shows at the fair, but we did invite the mayor to a number of shows in 2023 as our guest, as we did with our board chair, Vancouver councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. We are grateful they took the time to visit the fair and see the valuable economic and cultural impact the PNE makes.”

In one of Kirby-Yung’s disclosure forms, she indicated she received 16 tickets to the fair worth $1,584 from Sue Mah, the office manager and assistant to the general manager at Metro Vancouver.

“As a key showcase partner and exhibitor, Metro Vancouver had access to reserved seating for the concert series and invited board members to attend the concert series,” Kirby-Yung wrote in her entry.

In an email to Glacier Media, Kirby-Yung wrote: “For those tickets from Metro, I attended as a director and assisted with inviting community stakeholders such as BIA reps.”

Kooza, Celebration of Light

Some of the other gift disclosures from councillors included:

• Councillors Mike Klassen, Christine Boyle, Peter Meiszner and Rebecca Bligh declared tickets to Cirque de Soleil’s “Kooza,” courtesy of Concord Pacific. Coun. Pete Fry also attended, courtesy of Cirque de Soleil’s Crystal Kwon. Tickets were $300 each.

• Klassen, Boyle, Fry, Bligh and Lenny Zhou attended the Jan. 27 Vancouver Canucks Lunar New Year game, courtesy of the Canucks. Tickets were $175 each, with some councillors accepting two tickets. Sim dropped the puck at that game.

• Klassen, Boyle, Bligh and Meiszner accepted tickets for the Honda Celebration of Light from either Jessica Prior, Michael McKnight or Yuri Fulmer. Two tickets were worth $382.50. Bligh’s tickets for the “Concord Pacific Grandstand and Patio” were valued at $680 for the pair.

• Meiszner accepted a pair of tickets worth $420 to the production of “Hairspray” from Vancouver Civic Theatres.

• Coun. Lisa Dominato accepted a pair of tickets worth $1,300 from Concord Pacific to attend “Feast of Fortune and Seeking Your Insights” dinner gala hosted by St. Paul’s Foundation Feb. 24, 2024.

[email protected]