Vancouver can't give Operation Red Nose the reins again this year

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For the 19th year, Operation Red Nose will keep B.C. roads safer thanks to their holiday season ride service, but once again they won’t be running in the City of Vancouver.

From November 28 to New Year’s Eve, volunteers in each of 13 communities around the province will provide drives home to motorists who feel they aren’t able to get behind the wheel.

Operation Red Nose will take the reins for impaired drivers who call in a request for a lift in Abbotsford‐Mission, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Delta‐Richmond, Kamloops, Langley‐Surrey, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Shore, Prince George, Ridge‐Meadows, Tri Cities and Williams Lake.

However, the scope of the annual project has proven yet again to be bigger than what Vancouver can handle.

The Operation Red Nose campaign works with a local non-profit which rounds up volunteers to take driving shifts. ICBC provides insurance and support for the program.

Chris Wilson of Operation Red Nose in B.C. told The Province Vancouver is “a big black hole” because they cannot service the area.

It takes three volunteers to get one driver home. The trio meet up with the impaired motorist, and drive him or her home, with one volunteer following in the caller’s own vehicle. Additionally, the service needs volunteers to field phone calls in each area.

David LaTouche, Operation Red Nose’s Communications Director, explains to Vancity Buzz that the chief reason Vancouver is not participating is that the organization needs to “have a local non profit ready to take over the program” locally. LaTouche continues:

In the case of Vancouver, since this is a major city, that non profit (that we call “local host organization”) would need to have a strong volunteers base as they would not be able to provide a proper service with only 3 teams on the road, but we haven’t put down a number of how many would actually be needed.

In 2013, there were 4,347 volunteers who provided 7,768 rides in British Columbia alone.

Vancouver, says LaTouche, is one of many Canadian cities that “are already well covered by an efficient public transit system and taxi service.” Residents have plentiful options for getting home safely after holiday revelry.

Further, LaTouche points out that Operation Red Nose isn’t there to implement the programs in each community, but rather to support the community’s desire to run such a program during the season. In other Canadian cities, like Montreal and Regina, local clubs take on the task of recruiting volunteers and running the program. This year, no such group in Vancouver could take on the task.

Operation Red Nose operates solely on the power of volunteerism and donations. Those donations can come during the ride. Wilson suggests people using the service give as much or perhaps a little more than cab fare. Money raised goes to local youth-focused non-profits.

LaTouche says his organization would love to get the service set up in Vancouver for 2015. “Our office is more than ready to help any organization that’s interested in taking over the program in Vancouver in 2015 and our National Development Coordinator would be happy to answer any questions these interested organizations may have,” he tells us.

Drivers who need to reach the safe ride home service can dial 1‐877‐604‐NOSE, or find a local phone number available at OperationRedNose.com.

Featured image Man driving at night via Shutterstock

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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