2010 Winter Olympic Games License Plate
Plate Unveiling & Launch

On April 11, 2007, and after months of anticipation, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, Solicitor General John Les, ICBC President and CEO Paul Taylor and Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) CEO John Furlong unveiled a new special issue BC license plate to promote the staging of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Premier Gordon Campbell (right) was joined by VANOC CEO John Furlong (left)
to unveil the new B.C. licence plate celebrating the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Announced at the head office of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) in North Vancouver, the Premier symbolically attached the first plate of the series, MAA-000 (pictured below) to a new GM Vanoc Saturn Vue hybrid SUV (a vehicle which will form part of the fleet of 4,500 GM vehicles used during the Games).
Canadian Olympic athletes Alexa Loo (L) and Sonja Gaudet (R) look on as Gordon Campbell and John Furlong officially unveil the 2010 Winter Games licence plate and attach it to one of the hybrid vehicles that is to form the official fleet for the Games
From left: John Furlong; Paul Taylor; Premier Gordon Campbell; Alexa Loo; John Les; North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Katherine Whittred; Sonja Gaudet; and West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Joan McIntyre.
Available to motorists from April 16, 2007, the Olympic plates feature Mount Garibaldi, which can be seen from Highway 99 (13km north of Squamish) as one travels from Vancouver to Whistler. According to ICBC, “the chosen plate design captures the spirit of the Games while showcasing one of the most scenic and breathtaking areas between Vancouver and Whistler. The image was also used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Bid proposal."
When compared against the cover to the official Vancouver Bid proposal, the image of Garibaldi is, in deed, essentially the same. As has since been point out to us here at BCpl8s.ca, the image of Garibaldi on the bid cover is the inverted one, while the version on the license plate is correct. While not confirmed by ICBC, it is suspected that the use of the correct version of the photo was done in order to prevent the distinctive peak of Garibaldi from being concealed beneath the new government logo - which has been included at the top left of the plate.

Bid proposal cover

Passenger plate
A corollary to this new logo has been the banishment of the traditional “Beautiful” slogan, which has been used on passenger plates since 1964, in favour of “The Best Place on Earth” slogan recently adopted with much enthusiasm by the ruling Liberal party in its efforts to “re-brand” British Columbia. Although this change is not all that ground-breaking as the Veteran’s plates issued in 2004 contained no particular slogan, it does raise a question as to the consistency of messages that are being conveyed by the Province’s passenger plates – are we merely beautiful, or truly the best place on earth? Despite this conundrum, ICBC has advised that, at this time, there are no plans to adopt “The Best Place on Earth” slogan on any other plates.
Another new design feature is the presence of two debossed decal boxes at the bottom middle of the plate to be used in the application of BC’s two registration decals. Day decals are now to be applied to the left and month/year decals to the right (please see image below).
It is thought that this was prompted by the location of the Winter Games logo in the middle of the plate and with an eye to the problems encountered with the Veteran plates and the lack of a clearly identifiable location in which to apply the day decals (which has lead to a certain degree of day decal mayhem on the vehicles of our former service men and women).
The Olympic base will be made available to a wide range of vehicle types including motor homes; commercial trucks; motorcycles; utility trailers; commercial trailers; and farm trucks. ICBC is advising that existing plate numbering conventions will continue to apply to these plates, and that the first plate in each series will be as follows (and includes Farm Trucks starting at G9-0000):



Farm Truck



Utility Trailer
The extent of the run for each vehicle type will ultimately be determined by demand and, to this end, in announcing the release of the plate ICBC CEO Paul Taylor suggested that the company's market research indicates that some 80,000 to 100,000 of the 2.2 million registered motorists in British Columbia will be interested in buying the plates. This research was conducted by Ipsos-Reid, who surveyed over 1,200 ICBC customers and found that 53% (or approximately 106,000 households) expressed interest in obtaining 2010 Winter Games licence plates.



Knowing that the Passenger base is to be issued in the same sequence as the Veteran base, as opposed to the more convoluted sequence associated with the standard “Flag Graphic” passenger base (i.e. 999-MAK is to be followed by 000-MAL, whereas under the Flag Graphic 999-MAK would normally be followed by 000-MBA) certain assumptions can be made. Using ICBC’s research it can be deduced that the passenger run could possibly progress into the 000-MFA range, subject to demand.
This would leave a significant amount of un-used serials (approximately 280,000) following the cessation of the run in 2010. With the current Flag Graphic serial only expected to last until 2015 (unless a new base is introduced prior to this date), it will be interesting to see what is done with the remaining serials from this base.
As mentioned above, the series is only to be issued through December 31, 2010, with motorists able to renew their plates through December 31, 2012, after which time they will have to be surrendered. It is thought that this sunset clause on the plates is related to ICBC’s six year, $15 million sponsorship agreement with VANOC that designates the provincial insurer as an Official Supporter of the 2010 Winter Games. After this date, it is assumed that the right to use the Olympic logo ceases and, therefore, the right to collect fees associated with it (i.e. from the renewal of plates bearing the Olympic logo) ceases.
Much was made by the local press regarding the optics of a crown corporation with a dominant position in the auto insurance field pledging $15 million to VANOC after having recently raised rates by 3.3%, as well as whether this was simply a backdoor through which the provincial government could funnel addition supporting funds to VANOC. In response, ICBC has stated that the business case for the agreement was sound with $6 million to be provided through in-kind services, such as the insuring of the fleet, while the remaining $9 million is to be raised through the sale and renewal of the license plates which sell for a $35 fee (and annual renewal cost of $25).
Of interest to Canadian motorists not living in British Columbia but nevertheless wishing to share in our festivities may be the comment from John Furlong that VANOC will now be looking to partner with other province's "to develop additional licence plate programs in provinces and territories across Canada.” While this is not uncommon in America or Australia where individual states occasionally issue some sort of special plate in support of their athlete’s participation in whichever Games happens to be coming up next, I am not sure how enthusiastic motorists in Quebec or Newfoundland will be to send their money to lotus land?
The new Winter Games plate also joins a tradition started by Quebec in 1976 and continued by Alberta in 1988 of Canadian jurisdictions hosting an Olympic Games to issue some form of special license plate. For comparison purposes, an image of the plate issued by Utah for the last Winter Games held in North America is also shown below.

Montreal (1976)

Calgary (1988)

Salt Lake City (2002)

Vancouver (2010)

© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.