Bland-looking licence plate was due for a remake

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It appears that the days of the “Yours to Discover” motto on Ontario licence plates are numbered. It was a good run of almost 40 years following the era of “Keep it Beautiful.”

“Open for Business” is going to be the new motto for the plates of commercial vehicles while “A Place to Grow” awaits the rest of us. “A Place to Grow” is a line from that Ontario song from the 1960s that we used to sing in elementary school. What was most memorable about that tune was the final line in the chorus: “Ontaree-aree-aree-ohhh.”

The Ford government has come under fire for its wont for change to Ontario’s licence plates. And it’s not just because of a seemingly tired motto. The premier is also advocating the demise of front plates on vehicles – a move that several other provinces have already made.

Doug Ford says the cost of changing over the licence plates that will bear a new motto will not be charged to Ontarians. Not directly, perhaps, but we’ll pay for the changeover in the end. Maybe that’s why he wants to scrap the front plate – the savings might cover the cost of stamping out untold thousands of newly worded plates.


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Only British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario currently require drivers to have both front and back plates on their vehicles. The single-plate proposal is not sitting well with police who fear an increase in unsolved crimes could result, including hit-and-run accidents where would-be witnesses who see only the front end of a car would be ill equipped to help identify the perpetrator.

It would be interesting to see statistics related to vehicle-related crimes in other provinces, comparing the numbers during the dual-plate era with those of the single-plate period. If there is no significant difference between the two, then maybe the single-plate notion is worth considering. It will, after all, be a notable cost-saving measure.

As for the new motto, those who have suggested the public be consulted for an appropriate slogan have the right idea. Competitions are always fun ideas, and they get the public involved by thinking about something constructive.

“A Place to Grow” isn’t bad, but there must be other slogans worth consideration. How about “The Road Kill Province” or “The Hydro Gouging Province?” Perhaps a little more realistically, we could consider “Canada’s Longest Drive” or “God’s Country.”

Personally, I have no problem with the existing motto. If I had anything to say regarding a change in our licence plates, it would be about the colour. Ontario’s plates are probably the most bland-looking in Canada. Blue lettering atop a white background screams dull. But it now looks like the old white and blue will be phased out in favour of white lettering atop a two-tone blue background, making them look rather Toronto Argonaut-ish. This is a more attractive look, but it still falls short of most other provinces’ designs. It’s funny that Canada’s two largest provinces – Ontario and Quebec – have had the ugliest-looking licence plates in the entire country for several years.

A new motto isn’t going to give our plates any more pizzazz, but the overall look will. There is still an inventory of the old plates that need to be used up before the redesigned plates enter the mainstream. This at least gives our incarcerated cons a steady stream of work for years to come.

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