British Columbia Veteran License Plates

Generally, a Sample license plate in British Columbia is one that has been embossed with the word "SAMPLE" so that there is no confusion as to its meaning and to discourage its use on a vehicle (possibly for nefarious purposes).
At the time of their release in 2004, however, some sort of impasse between ICBC and the volunteer Veterans that administered the plate program that prevented Sample Veteran plates being made available to the public. Yet, for a variety of reasons, there has proven to be a need for Sample plates over the years.
It is also known that ICBC will hold back the first plate in a series for promotional purposes and, in the context of the Veteran plate, this has resulted in 000-VAA (passenger), 0000-LV (commercial truck) and V00000 (motorcycle) being retained by the Corporation:

As a result of these factors, an odd practive has taken root since the release of the Veteran plate in which the 000-VAA serial number has come to be treated as a de facto "SAMPLE" plate despite being a registerable number.

Take, for instance, the various vehicles that were used during the unveiling ceremony in 2004. 000-VAA has been most commonly spotted on a vintage military jeep that participated in this ceremonyand has been known to make appearances at Victoria Day Parade's on the Island, where many of the spotting's have occurred.
Plate "000-VAA" as displayed on the Jeep at the unveiling ceremony in 2004.
The Jeep at the 2007 Victoria Day Parade on Vancouver Island.
A close-up of the Jeep's two plates, note the scratching on the Veteran.

Other vintage cars used in the 2004 unveiling ceremony also displayed Veteran plates with the 000-VAA registration number - underscoring the reason why the word "SAMPLE" is generally used (i.e. multiple vehicles with the same registration number can present a challenge for law enforcement).

The duplicity of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news crew in abetting the ransacking of the Office of the Premier and Cabinet in downtown Vancouver on May 22, 2007, also highlighted that these 000-VAA plates are not always displayed on vehicles.  
As the white-bread, middle-class, suburban university student protestors overturned the office in the name of the Downtown Eastside, the camera panned across the mayhem and picked up an image of a "000-VAA" plate - nicely mounted on a wood frame (no less) and on display in the waiting room.

I hope somebody frisked that fellow in the lighter blue jacket and jeans on his way out as it would appear that he is about to reach for the coveted Veteran plate No. "000-VAA" displayed on the coffee table directly in front of him (it is sitting just behind the football in the image at left).  

Mind you, nothing has turned up on eBay yet, so I am thinking that he probably didn't get away with it!

It is thought that possibly ten plates with the 000-VAA registration were made for the 2004 unveiling ceremony and an unknown number of subsequent 000-VAA plates for use in ceremonial events have been made.
The First Veteran Plate

Archie Steacy of the BC Veterans Commemorative Association (BCVCA) was assigned the first plate in the series and that this was "001-VAA".

TB Vets Charitable Foundation
Congratulations to Sharel Fraser who was recognised by the BC Veterans Commemorative Association (BCVCA) in February 2017 for her work in support of numerous different Veteran Legacy programs across BC.
Together with Lt. Colonel Archie Steacy, Sharel was instrumental in negotiating the BC Veterans Licence Plate Program between 2003-04.
Accordingly, it was an engraved and mounted limited edition BC Veterans Licence Plate No. 000-VAA that was presented to Sharel by the BCVCA in recognition of her contributions (we are jealous Sharel!).
Being the plate dorks that we are here at, we couldn't help but notice that the sample plate presented to Sharel is a new dual decal box variety, whereas the original samples produced had only the single decal box (see below).

At left is an original sample plate with a single decal box produced prior to 2014. Interestingly, on the back of the plate is a warning against using it on a vehicle as well as a code for tracking (and possible loss) of these plates.

Time Marches on ...

In 2017, thirteen years after the introduction of the Veteran plate, one of the samples that had been used at the unveiling ceremony was listed on an internet auction site (this being the plate shown above - "VTPRF2-005").

In 2019, another one of the samples that had been used at the unveiling ceremony was shopped around with an asking price of $500 CDN before ultimately being listed on an internet auction site where it sold for $180 USD (minus auction fees, of course):

Affixed to the a wood frame, the name plate on this particular Veteran sample was presented to Reg Potts on June 1, 2004, by (then) Solicitor General, Rich Coleman, "for your participation in the launch of British Columbia's Veteran License Plate Program.".

As mentioned in the inset above, this particular plate had been presented to Reg Potts, who belonged to a local Victoria car club that provided four cars for use in the 2004 unveiling ceremony. Potts' vehicle was one of the 1938 Chevrolets shown earlier on this page.

That this particular plate became available is attributable to the aging of Canada's veterans who served in 20th Century conflicts, and the need to downsize as their housing needs and circumstances change in older age.

Manufacturer's Specimen

An interesting example of a manufacturer's specimen that appeared on eBay in 2020. It is easily identifiable by the use of "AAA" in place of the usual "VAA" and also by the decal that appears on the back. It seems that these were sent to ICBC by Waldale and the Corporation was required to sign off on the design, presumably before Waldale would mass produce the design. It is assumed that these were produced to show the dual decal well.


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.