On January 29, 2017, the provincial government released the designs for a trio of new specialty license plates promoting provincial parks and protected areas. Costing $50 with an annual renewal fee of $40, sales of the plates are to be re-invested back into provincial parks through a newly created "Parks Endowment Fund", which had previously been announced by the Premier in November of 2016.
The announcement completed a promise made by the Premier in November of 2016 to introduce a specialty license plate as a way for motorists to show their support for the parks system and as a funding mechanism for the BC Parks "Future Strategy" and is the first un-restricted specialty plate since the Winter Games (i.e. Olympic) base issued in 2007.
At top (from left to right), Barry Penner (ICBC Chairman), Todd Stone (Minister of Transportation), Mary Polak (Minister of Environment) and someone we don't know at far right at the unveiling of the new BC Parks plates at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver on January 18, 2017.
At right, Todd Stone and Mary Polak formally unveiling
the designs of the new BC Parks plates.
The "Kermode Bear" design was chosen to represent the province's "vast, rugged northern region" and because the animal is recognised as a provincial symbol. As well, in 2016 the Great Bear Rainforest Act received Royal Assent.
The "Purcell Mountains" design was chosen to represent the province's "interior region" with the snow capped peaks pictured on the plate being from the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area.
The "Porteau Cove" design was chosen to represent the province's "South Coast region" as it is one of the most popular provincial parks in British Columbia and also represents the most southerly fjord in North America.
For posterity, we have archived ICBC's Bulletin No. 16; "New number plates featuring BC Parks", which provides some basic details on these plates. To access it, Click Here!
The design of the Parks plates stays consistent with the house-style established by ICBC with the Veterans plate in 2004, and which generally involves the use of a photo-realistic background in which the main element is situated to the left side of the plate (think the War Memorial on the Veteran's base or the location of the Silver Cross on the Memorial Cross base) with a continuous registration number (i.e. no separation between the first and last three characters) shifted to the right-side
Unlike the recent Memorial Cross plate (which displays Waldale's "Mississippi Dies"), the die type on the Parks plate is the standard one found on regular issue passenger plates. While the plates do not appear to incorporate the holographic security thread found on regular passenger plates, they are utilising a "high-definition retro-reflective background sheeting" that is supposed to improve the readability of the plates at night.
It is probably also safe to assume that the one-time requirement that all new license plate types incorporate the BC Mark (as opposed to the "Spirit Flag") is officially dead as none of the Parks plate designs display this rising-sun symbol. In another interesting twist, the Corporation is allowing Commercial Trucks (i.e. pick-up trucks & motor-homes) to be issued Parks plates, despite usually being required to display AA-0000 format plates.
First Plate(s) in the Series
This is a bit tricky as there are technically three "first" plates in the BC Parks series; one for each of the different designs. Thanks to social media, however, we know that Minister Todd Stone was able to nab the lowest of the low, being the first plate (i.e. "PA001A") on the Kermode base.
Minister Polak appears to have been less concerned with the number appearing on her plate as she has the 5,000th (approx.) plate on the Porteau Cove based affixed to her vehicle. As for who has the first plate on the Porteau base (i.e. "PW001A") and the Purcell base (i.e. PK001A"), they remain to be discovered!
Minister Todd Stone and plate No. PA001A (Kermode).
Minister Mary Polak and plate No. PW005F (Porteau).
Googly Eyes Add-on!
People crack me up sometimes! Take the trend that started shortly after the release of the plates in early 2017 and involved the affixing of googly eyes to the bear on the Kermode base.
While we are unsure as to how widespread this practice is, it has added some life to the bear, especially, we imagine, when going around corners at high speeds!
At left is a short video put together by the folks at the CBC's Radio-Canada office in Vancouver (hence the French captions) on the day of the plates release!
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Origins of the BC Parks Plate
On November 28, 2016, the provincial government announced a new "BC Parks Future Strategy" which, amongst many other things, included the creation of a BC Parks specialty license plate.
If you go out in the woods today ...
Premier Christy Clark being stalked by a wild moose as she announces the "BC Parks Future Strategy" on November 28, 2016. The Strategy establishes a new series of BC Parks specialty license plates.
Details about the new BC Park plate are rather scant at the moment. All that is known is that proceeds from the sale of the plate will be re-invested into provincial parks and that there will be multiple different designs to choose from once the plates are finally released (in the "coming weeks" we are being advised). As per the Strategy itself:
Here is hoping that the "scenes from our parks and recreational areas" includes sites such as Rathtrevor and Okanagan Lake (our personal favourites)!
To read the government's press release on the "BC Parks Future Strategy", just Click Here!
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Other (US) Parks Plates
While uncommon in Canada - we think this might be the first such Parks plate issued by a province - these types of plates are not uncommon in the United States.
South of the border, displaying a Parks plates can usually gain one free entry to a State Park where, unlike in British Columbia where only camping carries a fee, the state government charges for day use as well. The following are a random assortment of these types of plates: