"I told them, 'The band's not working right now,'" he told Billboard.
But when he was told it could be his side band, Jon Bon Jovi & The Kings of Suburbia, he agreed.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Since 2012, Bon Jovi has done shows with his side band as a vehicle to keep the juices flowing while the main band is off the road.
"When 'the band' aren't working and each of us go our separate ways for other projects, the Kings are a lot of my friends from New Jersey who have already learned a bunch of Bon Jovi songs," he said.
The group often includes guitarist Bobby Bandiera and drummer Rich Scanella -- who filled in for Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres at the 2013 Rock in Rio Festival after the musician underwent emergency gallbladder surgery.
"The Kings are a group of friends who are capable of playing cover stuff," he said. "It gives me the freedom as a player to go and make music when it's not in official capacity. So that is what these guys are -- a bunch of musicians who I play with when it's play time."
The gig at Stanley Park fit the description of "play time" the singer craved.
"Stanley Park isn't just some park," he said. "It holds a lot of nostalgic memories for me. It's a place where I run. For 30 years. So I said, 'Yeah, I get it.'"
The Sayreville, N.J. native also has close ties to Canada -- he recorded three albums there, including Slippery When Wet, New Jersey and Keep the Faith while living in the city from 1986 to 1992.
He also liked the idea that the concert be the same kind of show he had put on before, like when he had played New York's Central Park for the Central Park Conservancy.in 2008.
He agreed to the gig "as long as they understand that it is sort of a block party."
When he was told that was exactly what the promoter, Paper Rain Promotions, had in mind, he agreed.
"OK, I'm in," he said.
Complications with the promoter followed when Paper Rain requested a postponement of the show due to what they said was low ticket sales. Bon Jovi Management countered that the promoter didn't have the necessary pieces in place -- namely a stage and the necessary permits.
When it all fell apart and the show was canceled, Bon Jovi was upset to learn that the people who had already bought tickets would not be refunded. That is when the singer took action and worked with the nearby Rogers Arena and Tourism Vancouver to "make it happen."
"I think this was a situation where it turned left and that's neither here nor there. All I care about is the folks who paid their hard earned money," he said.
Meeting with reporters in Vancouver, Bon Jovi said it was all about "integrity."
"If you give your word to somebody I think you should do the very best you can to follow through on that word," he said.
On Saturday night, the singer kept his promise with a set that included Bon Jovi songs "Who Says You Can't Go Home," "Lost Highway," "It's My Life," "You Give Love a Bad Name," a cover of Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People."
The Kings of Suburbia did not perform songs from the just-released Bon Jovi fan album, Burning Bridges -- the band's last with Mercury Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group which effectively operates under the Island Records banner. The reason is simple: The group doesn't know the songs yet.
Bon Jovi is joining his main band for rehearsals for the group's forthcoming tour of South Asia, kicking off on Sept. 11. After that, he said there are plans to release a new album and hit the road in the spring of 2016.
"There will be a tour around the next album in the spring for sure. A real tour to coincide with the record," he said. "[I] intend to put it out in the spring. We will finish it before year's end. I just got to finish it. It is almost done."
Bon Jovi has sold 21.8 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen Music, including five which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The band has also notched 25 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including 10 Top 10s and four No. 1s.