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ABC Vancouver councillor seeks $3,650 to attend Junos in Halifax

Mike Klassen wants to join Mayor Ken Sim, political staffer at Canada's annual music awards.
ABC Vancouver Coun. Mike Klassen wants council to approve an estimated $3,650 so he can attend the Juno Awards from March 21 to 25 in Halifax.

ABC Vancouver city councillor Mike Klassen is seeking council approval to spend an estimated $3,650 on a trip to Halifax next month to attend the Juno Awards with Mayor Ken Sim and a political staff member.

The councillor’s request goes before council Feb. 27.

“As Vancouver is the host of the 2025 Juno Awards, councillor Klassen requests that council approve his attendance at the 2024 Juno Awards in Halifax, Nova Scotia as a representative of the City of Vancouver — the Awards’ next host city,” said a staff report.

“It also presents an opportunity to observe and learn from how the City of Halifax creates an experience around the Awards to benefit the broader community of music fans.”

Glacier Media left text, phone and email messages Thursday for Klassen to learn more about his rationale for the trip, but did not get a response before this story was posted Friday.

Return airfare for Klassen’s trip is estimated at $1,855, accommodations $895, ground transportation $300, Juno tickets $300 and a $300 per diem for his stay from March 21 to 25.

'An incredible opportunity'

Sim and Luhan Yao, the mayor’s research and communications coordinator, are also scheduled to attend the awards. The mayor’s office estimated Sim’s cost at $3,550.37.

“Please note that a cost estimate for Luhan is not available yet as she has only been slated to attend as of this week,” said a statement Thursday from the mayor’s office.

“The Junos serve as an opportunity to highlight Canadian music and culture. As Vancouver is set to host the Junos in 2025, the mayor was formally invited to attend in advance of next year. This trip serves as an incredible opportunity for Vancouver to gain valuable insights into organizing next year’s event.”

Funding for Sim and Yao is expected to come from the mayor’s office budget.

Klassen has to have his request heard by council because any member wishing to be paid travel expenses — other than conventions approved under a section of a bylaw — must seek and obtain council approval.

If Klassen’s request is approved, the staff report says the tab will be covered by the 2024 “councillors’ travel budget.”

The mayor’s director of communications has since contacted Glacier Media to say that $3,000 of Klassen’s cost would be “funded from an existing mayor’s office budget.”

“The remaining $650 will require approval from city council,” Zoe Frankcom said in an email.

Sim’s office budget this year is more than $1.4 million.

'More time governing than partying'

However the cost breaks down, OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle isn’t happy about the expense to send the mayor, Klassen and a staff member to Halifax.

“It’s shockingly out of touch, given the financial pressures that the city and our residents are under,” Boyle said in a text message.

At the same time, she said she was excited that the Junos are coming to Vancouver.

“We have very talented staff and local arts leaders with the skills to host a great event,” Boyle said. “I cannot fathom what benefit the mayor, councillor Klassen and a political staffer travelling to the Junos in Halifax, at a price tag to the public of more than $10,000, will add.”

Added Boyle: “I’m sure the mayor and councillor Klassen will have a great time. But where is the benefit for Vancouverites? Vancouver is facing some serious challenges. I wish the mayor would spend more time governing than partying.”

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