A decision last week to cancel Operation Red Nose (ORN), the holiday season program to curb impaired driving, did not come as a great surprise to the Langley volunteers who revived the local service just a year ago.
“We had an inkling,” said Langley Minor Hockey Association (LMHA) president Michelle Cowan.
In fact, Cowan disclosed, the LMHA was already discussing a shutdown because of the hazards posed by the COVID-19 pandemic before the national organization announced it was cancelling its safe ride service for the first time in nearly 40 years.
“It all came down to safety,” Cowan told the Langley Advance Times, and in that regard both the local and national ORN programs are on the same page.
“It was a decision that was made for the safety of our volunteers,” Cowan commented.
“We are disapointed that we won;’t be bale to carry on with it this year.,” Cowan added.
“We hope to be back in the future.”
The announcement came one year after LMHA took over the reins of Operation Red Nose for the 2019 holiday season.
“We put a tremendous amount of work into it last year,” Cowan related.
“We learned a lot.”
Langley Gymnastics Foundation had operated the service for more than a decade before hanging up the keys in 2016, which led to two years with no ORN service in Langley and Surrey, though 11 other cities in the Lower Mainland, including Maple Ridge, Abbotsford-Mission and Chilliwack did offer drop offs to the area.
Operation Red Nose, which operates a service where volunteers will drive impaired people – and their cars – home, has been running since 1984. It began in Quebec, where it was founded by mathematics professor Jean-Marie De Koninck as a way to raise funds for the university swim team and reduce drunk driving.
Since then, the organization has been operating in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
“After careful consideration of the current public health situation and its logistical impact on the service, Operation Red Nose has decided not to provide its famous safe ride service during the 2020 holiday season,” executive director Jean-Philippe Giroux said in a statement Tuesday (Oct. 7).
“The decision was made after long and careful consideration, and not without emotion.”
However, the organization will launch an awareness campaign in November to encourage people to plan a safe ride home.