Operation Red Nose, the safe-ride program that runs during the holiday season, is set to come back this year in British Columbia — though it won't include every community in the province.
The program connects those who have been drinking, or feel like they can't drive their vehicle, with volunteer drivers who will chauffeur them and their vehicle home. It's due to run from Nov. 25 until New Year's Eve.
The service has been used by thousands of Canadians since its inception in 1984, but the last time it operated in B.C. was 2019, with the program suspended since due to COVID-19.
This year, it will run in 75 communities across Canada, including the following in B.C.: Burnaby, New Westminster, the Tri-Cities in Metro Vancouver, Chilliwack, Kamloops, Prince George and Williams Lake.
Chris Wilson, B.C. spokesperson for Operation Red Nose, says downtown Vancouver and Surrey aren't being served by volunteers this time around.
"But we're really hopeful that next year, they'll be able to get back on board and provide the service," he said. "So, this year it's a little bit more spotty service than usual."
Still, Wilson said the volunteers at Operation Red Nose — which can be reached through the program's website or app during the last three holiday weekends of the year — were excited to hit the road again after a two-year hiatus.
In 2019, there were 3,031 volunteers across B.C. and 5,399 rides given to British Columbians wanting to get home safely during the holiday season.
Each safe ride requires three volunteers: one to drive the vehicle of the person who made the call, another to navigate, and a third who drives another vehicle that picks up the other two volunteers.
"In each area that provides a service, donations go to some sort of youth and/or sports organization," Wilson said.
"It's a great program all around. You get home, your car gets home, and the donation that you provide in return goes to a local nonprofit organization that's making a difference in your community."
Wilson noted that ride-hailing apps weren't a factor the last time Operation Red Nose was in B.C., but he says that the service should be treated as one of the options people use during a night out.
"We want everyone to enjoy the holiday season responsibly. If your celebrations involve alcohol, please make sure to plan ahead for a safe ride home," said Robin Bell, the road safety program manager for ICBC, in a statement.