Are Ontario’s new blue licence plates hard to read at night? Province looks into complaints

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The Ontario government is aware some people have reported concerns over the visibility of the new licence plates, but that stakeholders, including law enforcement, were consulted and tested the readability, reflectivity and functionality of the plates.


The Ontario government said they are looking into complaints that the new blue licence plates are unreadable in certain conditions.

A Twitter account that appears to belong to Kingston police officer Sgt. Steve Koopman posted a picture of a car parked outside a McDonald’s, suggesting that the new plates can be hard to read.

“This was taken off duty in a relatively well lit parking lot with my headlights on,” Sgt. Koopman wrote, asking if police were consulted in the new the design. “They’re virtually unreadable at night.”

Andrew Collins, a video journalist in Toronto who also tweeted a photo of the new plates at night, says he has spoken with off-duty police officers who felt it may pose an issue.

“When you have crime happening, you want the most visible identifiers for a vehicle. And even if you can get a couple numbers from a plate to cross-reference with a colour or type of vehicle, you can find people,” Collins said.

“But now, if a police officer is behind a vehicle, there’s no chance that the officer is ever going to see (the plate),” Collins said.

Nicko Vavassis, issues manager and press secretary for the ministry of government and consumer services, said the government is aware some people have reported concerns over the visibility of licence plates, but that stakeholders, including law enforcement, were consulted and tested the readability, reflectivity and functionality of the plates.

“Ontario’s new high definition licence plates were tested using advanced plate reader technology under multiple visibility conditions,” Vavassis said, “and plates were successfully read under those conditions.”

Vavassis said the government values the public’s input and that they are looking into the potential problem.

Up until now, the point of contention over the new licence plates, in particular, regarded the slogan.

“Yours to Discover” has appeared on passenger and commercial plates since 1982, but last April the Ford government announced “A Place To Grow” as the slogan for the new plate designs.

“People across this province want change. They voted for change and they’re getting change,” Ford told the legislature on April 2.

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In addition to the plate swap, the Tories also redesigned Ontario’s trillium logo that the government used since 2006. The logo design cost $89,000.

Former premier Bob Rae, whose NDP government retained the “Yours to Discover” slogan created under Bill Davis’s Tories, recently derided Ford’s plan.

“I’ve knocked on thousands of doors over four decades in public life,” Rae wrote on Twitter. “No one has ever, ever, ever demanded a change in the licence plate, and in particular no one has ever, ever, ever suggested we change it to an empty hot air political slogan.”

About 1.8 million new licence plates are issued by the province each year and there are 12.9 million active registered plates.

With files from Ted Fraser and Robert Benzie

David Venn

David Venn is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @davidvenn_

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