Pay plates in the works for Alberta licence makeover

Albertans who dislike the province's eventual pick for a new licence plate design may be able to hit the road with other options, for a fee.

Albertans who dislike the province's eventual pick for a new licence plate design may be able to hit the road with other options — for a fee.

The province's 25-year-old plates are due for a makeover, and after a period of public consultation, the Conservative caucus is mulling over recommendations to replace the wild rose emblem with mountains, and the "Wild Rose Country" slogan with a different motto.

Albertans can currently opt to pay $200 for a personalized plate which features numbers or letters of their choice on the standard design. There are also specialized plates for veterans and ham radio operators.

Some areas, such as Montana and Ontario, offer dozens of affinity plates that feature charities or sports clubs for a fee.

But some provinces and American states offer dozens of affinity plates, which feature designs and slogans of charities or sports clubs, for a fee of about $20 to $50. A portion of the price goes to the organization itself.

Alberta's minister overseeing the licence plate overhaul says that option is on the table.

"We need to look at it carefully and make sure that a lot of people use it for fundraising," said Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk. "Some of the charities [and] … a lot of people are quite excited… So I want to make sure that whatever we do is right and fair for Albertans."

Ontario offers many affinity plates — including graphic designs for the province's square dancing federation, the Girl Guides and the Toronto Maple Leafs — while keeping the motto "Yours to Discover" on the bottom of the plate.

In Montana — where drivers can choose from designs and slogans for Planned Parenthood, the Right to Life Association, or the Eureka Montana Quilt Show — the standard motto of "Big Sky Country" disappears.

That type of design may be favoured by people who end up disagreeing with a new slogan on Alberta's plates, rumoured to be "Strong and Free."

"This is also probably not as controversial as what people think because there will be more options if you really, really detest whatever the standard plate will be," suggested newspaper columnist Rick Bell, who successfully lobbied the province to create a veterans' plate.

Details on the affinity plate program are expected to be unveiled next spring at the same time as the new Alberta plate design.