170,000 blue license plates still on the road 3 years after Ontario promised to pull them Pipa News

170,000 blue license plates still on the road 3 years after Ontario promised to pull them

Nearly three years after the Ontario government rolled out its blue plates, only to announce a few months later that it would scrap them after visibility issues arose, no plans have been announced to remove the rest of the plates from the road .

In 2021, the Ministry of Public and Business Services said it was working on a plan to pull the plates, which are difficult to read in certain lighting conditions. Of the 193,000 license plates issued by the government in 2020, 170,000 are still in circulation, according to the province.

On Monday, CBC Toronto asked the ministry about these plans and was told the blue plates will remain valid “until further notice”.

“Ontarians who wish to exchange their blue license plate for an upgraded white license plate may do so free of charge at a ServiceOntario location,” Colin Blachar, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

When the number plates first hit the road, critics immediately pointed out to the government how difficult it was to read them at night. In documents obtained by CBC Toronto through freedom of information requests, Ontario residents called the license plates “virtually illegible”, while police also warned the government that the license plates posed a security risk.

Oshawa NDP MP Jennifer French, the party’s transportation critic, is calling on the Ford government to come up with a plan to remove the remaining blue license plates.

“We still can’t read them on the roads, but they’re still there,” said French.

“First you couldn’t see them at night, then you couldn’t see them in the sun and then they disappeared in the rain… it’s incredible.”

‘Progress, growth and prosperity’

The plaques were meant to symbolize a new government of “progress, growth and prosperity,” according to Paul Calandra, the leader of the government house. They first entered circulation in February 2020 before being dropped after widespread criticism.

In May 2020, Prime Minister Doug Ford announced they would be replaced by the original white plates embossed with blue lettering.

Blachar said drivers in Ontario are currently receiving and will continue to receive the white “Yours to Discover” embossed license plates when they register a vehicle.

“It’s still their responsibility to continue to rectify their mistake,” said French.

Kingston Police Sergeant Steve Koopman posted this photo of a car at night in 2020 asking the Ontario government if it had consulted law enforcement before making the new license plates. (Sgt. Steve Koopman/Twitter)

José Luís Couto, director of government relations and communications with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said he hopes the government works to remove blue plates from circulation.

“We think it should definitely be something that the government should prioritize,” Couto said.

“The [licence plates] are harder to read, especially at night for our officers on the road. It is therefore important that these records are of course taken out of circulation over time.”

Couto said police officers are “adapting” to the visibility challenges the signs pose in the meantime.

“Our preference is, of course, for the standard white number plates. They are very easy to read and they are very distinguishable in terms of the letters.”

Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League, said drivers should consider having their license plates replaced whether or not the government requests it.

“If I held a blue license plate, for my own safety and benefit I would come by and have the plate changed,” said Patterson.

“I wouldn’t wait for a letter advising me to come in. I would as soon as I could get it done.”

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