Call for B.C. volunteers as Operation Red Nose prepares for a busy season

Last year, more than 3,300 volunteers in B.C. helped get clients and their vehicles home safe. Brandon Gonez / Global News

Along with a new promotional video, Operation Red Nose is launching its 23rd year of providing safe rides in B.C.

With the province still waiting for ride-sharing, the service, which is named after the most famous reindeer after all and connects party-goers with volunteer drivers, remains one of the few options available for people celebrating the holidays.

And with cannabis now legal, organizers say there may be more demand this season.

“We don’t ask clients why they’re using Operation Red Nose, if they don’t feel fit to drive and they call us, we simply drive them home and we don’t ask why,” Operation Red Nose National Development Coordinator Marie-Chantal Fortin said.

Last year, more than 3,300 volunteers in B.C. helped get clients and their vehicles home safely.

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“It’s hard to measure how much grief and anguish and expense has been saved by what you folks have done,” Burnaby RCMP Supt. Chuck McDonald said at Wednesday’s official campaign launch.

Donations or tips from clients stay in the community and go towards local youth and amateur sports.

“We work with legally registered non-profit organizations and for them it’s a fundraising activity for their club or organization and it’s also a community service that they offer,” Fortin said.

The volunteer initiative provided about 1,100 rides in the Surrey and Langley area last year but a gymnastics group that ran the program in the region said it couldn’t commit for another year, leaving a hole that has yet to be filled.

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“We’re not going to be in Langley and Surrey again this year. We contacted a few organizations in the area but nobody stepped forward to actually apply to host our program this year,” Fortin said.

The service runs from Nov. 30 to New Year’s Eve but the official launch is being held now to attract volunteers and charity hosts for next year’s season and to remind people it will be available over the holidays.

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Those taking part are being assured the new $50 fee for British Columbians who let a friend or family member occasionally drive their car won’t get in the way, thanks to Operation Red Nose’s partnership with ICBC, which provides insurance for volunteer vehicles.

“Each year in B.C. sadly an average of 65 people are killed in accidents involving impaired driving. It remains one of top three contributing factors for fatal crashes in B.C.,” ICBC Road Safety Program Manager Aileen Shibata said.

And with the province saying B.C. won’t have ride-sharing until at least the fall of 2019, thousands continue to rely on this volunteer-driven service.

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