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Despite bitterly cold temperatures, Winnipeg's annual family friendly New Year's Eve event at The Forks went ahead as planned.

As Winnipeggers prepare to ring in the new year, various organizations are urging people not to drink and drive, but one man in particular is making sure his community will have a safe ride home.

Ian Milne put out the call on social media offering to drive anybody home on New Year’s Eve. It’s an offer he hopes will help people out on the holidays, but it also serves as a way to help Milne overcome his challenges.

“I was a struggling alcoholic and I’m finding ways to stay sober,” Milne told CTV News. “It dawned on me to help people get around safely, rather than me needing a safe ride home later on.”

Milne said this is the first time he’s offered the safe rides, but has already had a number of people reach out to him for a ride. He said he’s not too concerned about making money, and is telling people to pay whatever they want.

“I’m just doing it for my own fun,” Milne said. “I’m sure I’ll get some stories out of these people.”

The City of Winnipeg’s website said those wanting to operate a vehicle for hire must have a valid driver’s licence, a clean criminal and driving record from the past 10 years, and not be registered on the child abuse registry.

The city also requires drivers operating a vehicle for hire to be registered with a dispatcher. A list of dispatchers can be found on the City of Winnipeg website

MPI WARNS AGAINST DRINKING AND DRIVING

While Milne is offering his vehicle, Manitoba Public Insurance said there are far more opportunities for people to find a safe ride home.

“We've been around long enough that drivers know that New Year's Eve you should not be drinking and driving, you should find alternate routes home,” said Brian Smiley, a spokesperson for MPI. “One fatality is too many and one serious injury is too many – whether it's New Year's Eve or any other day during the 365 that we have.”

Smiley encouraged Winnipeggers to use vehicle-for-hire services, a designated driver, or just stay at a hotel or friends house for the night.

He said for the past decade, MPI has also been sponsoring a New Year’s Eve free ride transit program.

On New Year's Eve, Winnipeggers are invited to take the bus free of charge.This year the free ride offer begins at 7 p.m. and runs until the end of service. The last busses are scheduled to leave downtown at around 1:35 a.m.

“It’s all about making sure Winnipeggers have a safe ride home tonight,” said Coun. Matt Allard. “We’re encouraging everyone to enjoy the festivities, but also make sure to take appropriate transportation.”

Allard said he’s received tremendous responses from the community about the program. He said he hopes it continues in the years to come.