Proposed new 'plategate' meeting in Medicine Hat based on distance

Saskatchewan recently proposed a change to the plate dispute meeting, asking it be held in Medicine Hat because of its geographic location in relation to Alberta and Saskatchewan's capital cities.

Alberta government says it's mainly concerned with workers and businesses, not location

A spokesperson for Deron Bilous, Alberta's minister of economic development and trade, said Saskatchewan’s discriminatory policy is making it hard for businesses and working people on both sides of the border. (Colin Hall/CBC )

Travel distance is the main concern for the Saskatchewan government in its latest spat with Alberta over licence plates.

Saskatchewan recently proposed that the meeting over the licence plate dispute be moved to Medicine Hat because of its geographic location in relation to the capital cities.

"Travel considerations were on the mind of the Saskatchewan ministers," said a government spokesperson in an email response.

If held in Medicine Hat, the trip would result in 65 kilometres less travel by road for those coming from Regina.

For those travelling from Edmonton to Medicine Hat instead of Lloydminster, the trip by road would add about 250 kilometres.

Originally, the meeting was scheduled to take place on Jan. 31 in the border city of Lloydminster, where affected workers from both provinces are present.

According to the Alberta government, both parties agreed to hold the meeting at that location.

On Thursday morning, Steven Bonk, minister responsible for innovation and economy, said those details were never set in stone.

"It was just a location and a date proposed by Alberta," said Bonk.

This map outlines optimal travel distances for Edmonton and Regina to both Lloydminster and Medicine Hat. (CBC)

Meeting location still undetermined

Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous isn't keen on the idea of swapping out summits based on perception of distance.

"This has always been about workers and businesses for us — never convenience or geography," said a spokesperson on behalf of Bilous in an email.

"Meeting in Lloydminster with the heavy construction association gives all of us the opportunity to hear from businesses in both provinces."

There is still no word on where the meeting will be held.

How it all started

The disagreement stemmed from claims that Saskatchewan residents were being forced to register their vehicles' plates when working on Alberta construction sites.

Alberta denied these allegations.

But Saskatchewan then countered, imposing requirements for Alberta construction workers to register with Saskatchewan plates if working on road projects.

Last month, the Lloydminster Heavy Construction Association said it would host a meeting to discuss the dispute — an invitation that ministers from both provinces accepted, according to the Alberta government spokesperson.