Operation Red Nose will not be taking place this year in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. (Black Press files)

Operation Red Nose will not be taking place this year in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. (Black Press files)

Operation Red Nose a no go this year because of COVID

Campaign would have raised money for KidSport Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows

Operation Red Nose will not be operational in the community this year.

It was a difficult decision that chapters across the province had to make, said provincial spokesperson Chris Wilson.

However, this year, like last year, the decision was made based on the uncertainty around COVID restrictions and concerns around driving other people’s cars.

Operation Red Nose provides safe rides home to people over the holiday season who have had too much to drink. Teams of volunteers go out to pick up not only the driver and their passengers, but they will also drive the person’s vehicle home as well.

This year the only chapters that are committing to running any particular service, Wilson noted, is the Kamloops chapter of Operation Red Nose, and the Tri Cities/Burnaby/New Westminster chapter. Even then, they are not 100 per cent sure they will be able run the program, he noted, and will be making a final decision closer to the start date.

Decisions were made about four weeks ago whether chapters were going to cancel the program. Organizers weighed their decisions on the ability to have enough volunteers to provide adequate service this year, or conversely, the possibility of a lack of demand for the service. Or the possibility that they would not be able to operate because of new health restrictions after ordering all their promotional material ahead of time. Also having to confirm vaccination status with individuals who might be inebriated – a situation that could be confrontational, said Wilson.

READ MORE: Operation Red Nose cancels safe ride service due to COVID-19 risks

ALSO: Almost 800 people served by Operation Red Nose Ridge Meadows

“We don’t want to put volunteers in that situation,” he said.

In the past donations from the local campaign have gone to KidSport Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, an organization that provides grants to families in need to help cover the costs of registration fees for children 18 years and younger to play a season of sport.

The 2019 Operation Red Nose campaign provided a safe ride home to almost 800 people in the community during the holiday season and raised $13,192 for KidSport.

“That’s a lot of money that won’t be going to the charities to help families with their registration fees,” said Wilson.

Last year the local chapter of KidSport granted $40,946 to help 131 children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Wilson hopes that other taxi services will be able to keep up with demand this season.

“We’re really hopeful that next year we’ll be full steam ahead providing the service in a really comprehensive way like we have in the past,” he said.

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