The Ridge Meadows chapter of Operation Red Nose said concerns for the safety of customers and volunteers influenced the decision to cancel the safe ride service province-wide this holiday season.
The program, which oversees volunteers driving impaired people – and their cars – home, would have been operating their 13th year in Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows.
Local program co-ordinator, Nicky Tu, said even though the service is an important one, the risks were too high.
“When we were putting our input into headquarters, we had to consider that a large chunk of our volunteers are seniors,” she said.
“A lot of them said they wouldn’t be comfortable coming in for the volunteers service this season because of COVID-19.”
Tu noted the uncertainty of having to drive a client’s car, as well as being in a small confined space with people outside their bubble, were the top concerns for volunteers.
Last year, the local Operation Red Nose had close to 100 volunteers, who provided 326 rides, that made sure 788 clients arrived home safely.
As a result of the safe ride service being discontinued, the donations to the charity that operates it, will see a hit.
“This year is especially tough because when we’re not running Operation Red Nose, we typically have sponsors that fund the programs, and this year we’re already missing three major donations due to COVID,” Tu said.
“We just hopeful we can maintain the charity for another year, as we are a not-for-profit.”
Operation Red Nose’s headquarters, which is based in Quebec, are planning to create an awareness campaign in November, which will encourage people to plan a safe ride home.