Bilingual licence plates coming to Manitoba roads

A new bilingual licence plate will soon be available to Manitobans.

New plates bearing 'Bienvenue' unveiled on Tuesday

New licence plates, with greetings in English and French, will soon be available to Manitoba motorists. 1:40

A new bilingual licence plate will soon be available to Manitobans.

Premier Greg Selinger unveiled the new design for the optional plates at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Provincial officials gathered at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre in St. Boniface to make the announcement and were joined by representatives from the Festival du Voyageur.

Selinger said the plates were "something we've worked on for quite a while to put it in place," adding the plates are an important part of recognizing Manitoba’s cultural heritage.

The new bilingual licence plate still bears the English greeting "Friendly Manitoba" but now has "Bienvenue" added at the bottom.

Renald Remillard of the Association of Francophone Lawyers pushed for bilingual plates when the province last redesigned them in 1996.

"[It] maybe should have been done 17 years ago," said Remillard. But, he said, he’s appreciative none the less.

"It’s a nice welcoming sign that French has its place in Manitoba."

The plates will become available to the public on Feb. 25. To switch plates, drivers will have to pay $15.

Newly registered vehicles will have to pay $7 for either the English or bilingual plate.

Dominique Philibert with the Société franco-manitobaine said she’d like to see the province go one step further.

"The next step would be to have only one plate, which would be bilingual," said Philibert.

The diversity of plates on Manitoba roads has grown over the last few years, with the introduction of Winnipeg Jets license plates in 2011 and Winnipeg Blue Bomber plates that were introduced last year.