New licence plates coming
Alberta: Controversy over plan to remove 'Wild Rose' slogan
By: Roxanne Blackwell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 10:38 am
Your vehicle’s back end will be getting a makeover this spring when the province rolls out a newly designed licence plate for Albertans.
On July 8, Premier Dave Hancock introduced three potential designs for residents to vote on. An online survey is currently open at alberta.ca/licence-plate-survey.cfm and will close on August 18 and the winner will be selected.
All three designs feature a mountain landscape, but the current “Wild Rose Country” slogan will be missing from the new plates. Instead, they’ve replaced it will a space for a website, which right now is “alberta.ca”, though the premier said that website address could still change.
“These are conceptual designs, the website on there is a placeholder,” he said. “The idea is to have a place where people can connect for more information.”
One provincial cabinet minister said the change to replace the slogan with the Province’s website address is merely keeping up with the digital age.
“A lot of jurisdictions are moving to websites at the bottom,” Alberta Service Minister Doug Griffiths said. “It’s just a reflection of the time.”
He also rejected the idea that removing the slogan had anything to do with the Wildrose Party, though he said the party would likely make that accusation.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said it’s obvious that the decision was a political one. She said the Province is using the new features as a political opportunity.
While the new plates will offer a reflective coating to improve visibility for police officers, she says that request has been in place for some time.
“The police associations have been asking for years to put reflective coating onto the plates for safety reasons and we're very supportive of that,” Smith said. “But there really isn’t any reason to change the slogan other than it irks them that Wildrose is on every plate in the province so I think people are going to see through it.”
Smith said it was easy to take a look at social media and see the reactions of people who are against the removal of the slogan.
“My favourite social media comment was from (Calgary) Mayor Naheed Nenshi,” Smith said with a laugh. “He ‘hopes that the government doesn’t find out we have an Alberta party too’ or we'll be in real trouble.”
Aside from the term “wild rose” Smith said the idea of replacing any slogan with a website link doesn’t seem to be a very well thought out decision.
“It seems kind of unusual, we're trying to encourage people to get off their cell phones when they're in their car,” Smith said. “So having a URL on every plate just seems to be trying to encourage people to be using their smart phones while they're in the car. I’m a little surprised by it.”
Okotoks resident Pauline Hooge said she prefers having a slogan on the plates as opposed to a website. Though it seems silly, she said there could be a political motivation behind removing the Wildrose slogan.
Okotokian Tracy Maguire said she didn’t see what the big deal was.
“I know a lot of people were upset about alberta.ca, but hello, it's 2014,” she said.
Resident Terry Smith said he doesn’t care if it’s a slogan or a website, because in his opinion, nobody reads it anyway.
The designs for the plate were done based on consultation work that was conducted back in 2007 when the idea for a redesign was first brought to the table. Albertans voiced that they would like to see distinguishing features of Alberta represented on the plate, such as mountains and wheat fields, similar to Alberta’s crest.
In addition to the improved visual design, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis said the new plates will help keep Alberta’s roads safer by making uninsured vehicles easier to identify once the new plates start hitting the streets.
“We estimate there are 165,000 unregistered vehicles on Alberta’s roads, and many of them are uninsured,” Denis said. “The new plate will be easier to see in both day or night and this will allow police to more easily identify unregistered, uninsured or even stolen vehicles.”
Alberta’s current licence plate has not been updated in 30 years, and Griffiths said on average other jurisdictions update their plates every 10 years for security purposes, meaning Alberta is well over due.
Beginning in spring 2015, annual registration fees will be increasing by $5 to help cover costs of the new implementationWhat is the cost of implementation? and Albertans will receive a new plate during regular registration renewal times or they can purchase a new plate before their registration for an additional fee.