Letter to the Editor: Growing concerns around Ontario license plates

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As an Ontarian, you know of the “Yours to Discover” license plates. You know, the blue-on-white reflective sheet license plates that have been heavily distributed and can be seen affixed among the majority of vehicles on our roads.

This is given its more than two decade-long tenure in Ontario’s automotive history since the plates were issued to Ontario drivers in 1996 by the Ministry of Transportation, and began with the format of AAAA-001.

However, if you have seen license plates that —like our current state of affairs — are blue, you can attribute this finding to a decision by the legislature in Ontario.

In April 2020, the Ford government announced that it would be redesigning the current Ontario license plates to a white-on-blue (or inverted) design. The new license plates also featured a new trillium logo, typeface and font.

Although accounting for a small percentage of all plates currently in circulation, just two months after the government had announced the distribution of these license plates, they were recalled due to reasons of visibility, as well as challenges with funding amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. Nevertheless, the license plates come with distinct features which have rendered them to be ineffective for two reasons.

The first reason that these plates are concerningly ineffective is the fact that they are flat; the plates are not press-stamped from the aluminum backing of the plate with the letters raised on its face. This is a matter of a potential security threat, because now counterfeiters require less machine apparatus to produce what could be fake or altered license plates in the same fashion.

Also, according to numerous reviews of the license plate on various media platforms, it seems as though the plates are made with a thin laminate glued onto a metal template.

As well, this also brings upon the problem of quality of the license plates. The laminate used in the production of these license plates, which were designed by conglomerate giant 3M, rendered the white lettering to be unreadable to the naked eye, as well as cameras. This poses concerns of public safety, as license plates are vital for the identification of persons in, say, a hit-and-run.

Speculation over the plate has prompted some sneaky motorists to keep the plates so they can bypass expressway toll cameras. However, luck has run out for all as these defective license plates are now the subject of a province-wide recall.

Given that a vast majority of non-essential businesses have shut down, funding has run thin and that has prompted discontinuation of license plates that are seemingly a failure.

Instead of allocating money into education for our young Ontarians, the government has aimlessly spent money on ‘rebranding’ a province that already was beautiful and thriving to begin with. Given the financial loss due to such a careless spending decision on mere plates, can we say, “Yours to Discover” or “Yours to Recover”?

-Ameer Shash

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