The provincial government will stop issuing the new Ontario license plates due to concerns about the readability of the design.
The new, double-blue and white plates were introduced on Feb. 1. They sparked a series of complaints after images began to pop up online showing the letters and numbers virtually unreadable in certain light conditions.
A Kingston police officer posted a photo on Twitter of a car with a nearly illegible license plate. He said the picture was taken while he was off duty in a well-lit parking lot.
Ok, this was taken off duty in a relatively well lit parking lot with my headlights on. Did anyone consult with police before designing and manufacturing the new Ontario licence plates? They’re virtuallly unreadable at night. pic.twitter.com/CoLxnp3iTQ
— Sgt Steve Koopman (@SgtKoopman) February 16, 2020
A similar photo was published by a freelance photographer who grabbed a screenshot from his dash camera of a vehicle travelling near Whitby. He said the licence plate was “totally unreadable” from a distance at night.
Has anyone else noticed that the newly designed @ONgov license plates are totally unreadable from distance at night? Submitted screen grab taken from a 1080P dash camera. Could be an issue for GTA police forces in the future. pic.twitter.com/EN4hvoTYBL
— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) February 15, 2020
On Feb. 18, the office of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services confirmed to CHCH News that it was looking into the “readability” of the plates to the naked-eye under certain light conditions.
Two days later, Progressive Conservative House Leader Paul Calandra said the new licence plates would likely be recalled once the problem was fixed by the manufacturer, 3M Canada.
On Thursday, the government announced it would stop distributing the plates as of the end of day March 4.
“The Government of Ontario and 3M Canada are working in partnership to resolve issues that have been raised about the new Ontario licence plates. We take these concerns seriously and together have put a plan in place to deliver an enhanced new plate. 3M Canada is providing material to the Province and testing is being completed by law enforcement and key stakeholders,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services on Enhanced in a news release. “Manufacturing of the new enhanced plates is expected to begin within two weeks and they will be distributed shortly afterwards. We are pleased to have reached a resolution to this matter at no cost to Ontario taxpayers. We look forward to providing further updates in the coming days to inform Ontario drivers.”
The remaining white embossed licence plates will be temporarily issued to motorists until the existing supply of material is used up.
Once the stock of the white embossed plates is gone, ServiceOntario centres will begin issuing the new enhanced plates starting the week of March 16.
Customers who receive white embossed plates in the interim period will not receive new enhanced plates to replace them unless they are damaged, delaminated, lost or stolen.
A notice on the ServiceOntario website now says the new blue licence plates are not available at this time.
Roughly 71,000 blue plates were distributed to Ontarians in February.
The province says those who received the new plates will be contacted directly by mail with instructions on how to replace them. Licence plate validation stickers will also be reissued with new enhanced plates.