A Maple Ridge man who became well known for his public campaign to improved ambulance service in Maple Ridge has passed away.
Matt Kelso, 32, lost his long battle with brain cancer on Dec. 1.
He was a lifelong resident of Maple Ridge, and well known among the city’s musicians. Kelso came into the public eye in 2016 with his petition for more ambulances and paramedics. He collected some 13,000 names, and found himself in the national media spotlight.
He rallied the support of local politicians. Former Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy rose in the House of Commons on World Cancer Day in 2015, and spoke about Kelso’s lobby for more ambulances.
“There are only two ambulances, to serve the needs of 100,000. This is unacceptable. Matt started a petition to increase the number of ambulances, because he knows that both ambulances are often busy at the same time. This can lead to long waits for those in emergency situations. He knows the next time he calls for help his life could depend on it,” said Ruimy.
“With every signature that Matt collects he raises awareness and continues the fight to make our riding safer. Thank you Matt.”
Members of the house stood and applauded.
As he gathered names for his petition, Kelso also collected anecdotes about people with health issues who had suffered through long waits for ambulances.
“I feel like this is saving lives, and there could be nothing more rewarding than that,” Kelso told The News.
At a time when the city was divided by how the issue of homeless camps should be handled, Kelso made it an issue everyone rally around.
“Let’s unite behind something,” he said.
In September 2016, Premier Christy Clark was at Ridge Meadows Hospital to announce the city would be getting a third ambulance.
Tributes are pouring in on Kelso’s Facebook Page, with many musicians offering condolences.
“RIP Matt Kelso. I will never forget you as a friend and musical brother. You fought like no other over the years,” said James Buddy Rogers.
“Matt not only was the driving force behind getting Maple Ridge another ambulance, but he was a big part of other community events as well. Was a pleasure to know him, his passing is bittersweet, while he is no longer in pain, he was far too young to go. My deepest condolences to his family,” said Jesse Stretch.