The N.W.T.'s new licence plates, unveiled on Thursday, have a graphic coating that make them more visible. ((CBC))

A revamped design for the Northwest Territories' licence plates was unveiled on Thursday, but what has some talking is the extra fees motorists will have to pay for the new plates.

While the N.W.T.'s plates will keep the well-known polar bear shape, transportation officials say the new design meets current North American standards for licence plate size and visibility.

The new design will take effect on July 1, and all vehicles will be required to have new plates by Dec. 31, 2011.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins said he likes the look of the new licence plates, but he has concerns about the fees: all registered vehicle owners will have to pay a $10 fee when they renew their licence plates, and they will get new licence plate numbers.

Those who want to keep their existing licence plate numbers or personalized plate slogans will have to pay an additional $25 "retention fee."

"If the finance minister needs to find new ways to generate revenue, we should be discussing it in the house right here," Hawkins told CBC News on Thursday.

"Last week was the first time I heard of an additional fee and I plan to raise it in the coming weeks when we sit again, as to why didn't they have consultation."

Al Kaylo, the director of road licensing and safety with the N.W.T. Transportation Department, said the general public was not consulted on the licence plate changes and fees because the changes were mostly technical.

Enforcement agencies, tourism officials, veterans and manufacturers did give some input, he said.

The design changes include switching from using steel plates to aluminum. As well, the new plates have a "graphic sheeting" that makes plate numbers visible in the dark.