Remember those ‘unreadable’ blue licence plates? Most of them are still on Ontario’s roads

Nearly three years after the Ontario government rolled out its blue licence plates, only to scrap them a few months later after visibility issues were raised, no plans have been announced to pull the rest of the plates off the roads.

Ministry first said it was working toward pulling the remaining blue plates in 2021

Nearly three years after the Ontario government rolled out its blue licence plates, only to announce it was scrapping them a few months later after visibility issues were raised, no plans have been announced to get the rest of the plates off the roads.

In 2021, the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery said it was working on a plan to pull the plates, which are hard to read in certain lighting conditions. Of the 193,000 plates the government issued 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 continue to be valid "until further notice."

"Ontarians who want to exchange their blue licence plate for an upgraded white licence plate may do so free of charge at a ServiceOntario location," said Colin Blachar, a ministry spokesperson, in a statement.

When the plates first hit the road, critics immediately pointed out to the government how difficult it was to read them at night. In documents obtained through freedom of information requests by CBC Toronto, Ontarians called the plates "virtually unreadable," with police also warning the government the plates posed a safety risk.

Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French, the party's transportation critic, is calling on the Ford government to come up with a plan to pull the remaining blue plates.

"We still can't read them on the roads, but they are still out there," French said.

"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 unbelievable."

'Progress, growth and prosperity'

The plates were meant to symbolize a new government of "progress, growth, and prosperity," according to Paul Calandra, the government house leader. They first went into circulation in February of 2020 before being scrapped after widespread criticism.

In May of 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced they'd be replaced with the original white plates that have the embossed blue lettering.

Blachar said Ontario drivers are currently receiving, and will continue to receive, the white plates with "Yours to Discover" embossed on them when they register a vehicle.

"It still is their responsibility to follow through on fixing their mistake," French said.

José Luís Couto, director of government relations and communications with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said he hopes the government is working on taking the blue plates out of circulation.

"It certainly should be something the government should prioritize in our view," Couto said.

"The [licence plates] are more difficult to read, especially at night for our officers out on the road. So it's important that in due process obviously these plates are taken out of circulation."

Couto said police officers are "adapting" to the visibility challenges that the plates pose in the meantime.

"Our preference obviously would to be to have the standard white plates out there. They are very easy to read and they're very distinguishable in terms of the lettering."

Ontario Safety League president Brian Patterson said drivers should consider getting their plates replaced whether or not they are asked by the government.

"If I was a holder of a blue licence plate, for my own safety and benefit, I would drop in and have the plate change," Patterson said.

"I wouldn't wait to receive a letter advising me to come in. I'd do it as soon as I could get it done."

Credit belongs to :

Check Also

CRTC registration for podcasts and streaming companies draws criticism

Canada's broadcasting regulator is obligating online streamers and podcast companies to provide registration information to …