British Columbia Veteran License Plates

David McCutcheon of ICBC (at left) and MLA Joyce Murray (right) unveil the new B.C. Veteran Licence Plate.
The design of the plates feature a powder blue background, with a partial image of the national war memorial in Ottawa to the left of the plate overlayed with a symbolic red poppy.  The numbering on the plates is to be black and the "Beautiful" slogan that graced all passenger plates issued since 1964 was dropped in favour of the word "VETERAN" at top of the plate. The BC Veteran plate was also the first of its kind in Canada to avail itself of technological advances in the printing of license plate designs and incorporate a photograph.

The serial to be used on passenger vehicle plates started at 000-VAA and, unlike the convoluted sequence associated with standard passenger plates of the time, would progress alphabetically through to 999-VAX before rolling over to 000-VBA. By comparison, a Flag Graphic base plate would have rolled-over at 999-VAK to 000-VBA).  The 000-VAA series would otherwise have been tentatively scheduled for release in 2010 as part of the thirteenth million set of Flag Graphics (i.e. 000-LAA to 999-XKK).
It is thought that the entire bloc of "V" plates (i.e. VAA - VXX) has been reserved for the Veteran base. This represents a bloc of approximately 400,000 plates, and with only 31,000 passenger plates having been issued as of January 2010, and the annual number of plates being assigned now equalling about 1,000/year, it is estimated that the Corporation has a sufficient number of combinations for the next 369 years!
Jon Ilnytzky Collection

Rick Pilotte Collection

Issuing Statistics
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Pierre Delacote Collection
For those with a sharp eye, you will have noticed that the uber-rare 2004 decaled Veteran plate shown above is odd in that the decal appears to have been modified (i.e. cut short to fit in the decal box with the day decal):
Our initial thoughts regarding these decals was that ICBC might have run out of 2004 decals and begun issuing over-run decals with the 2005 decal dimensions. This theory kinda worked when the only known example was from December 26th, but the discovery of a second plate with this type of decal with an October 15th expiry explodes this idea. Maybe the more likely scenario is that aware of the decal issues on other Veterans plates (i.e. no clear spot to place the day decal given the background graphic and size of the 2004 year decal), some motorists opted to cut the edges off to make sure everything fit and there would be no yellow bands on either side of their 2005 decal ... but we are only guessing.

Shortly before Remembrance Day 2004 (November 11) the province announced that the Veteran license plate program would be expanded to include Motorcycles, Pick-up Trucks and Motor-homes.
Truck plates will employ the same format as the current Truck passenger base with the suffixes LV, LX and LW (and potentially LY as this will mark the end of the Truck serial prior to it being reversed with the letters forming the prefix). The Veterans Motorcycle Plate will employ a "V" prefix - which should allow for 99,999 cycle plate to be issued.
Issuing Statistics
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Jun. 2017:
Issuing Statistics
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Designing the Plate
The first province to issue a Veteran licence plate was Nova Scotia in 2002, and within the span of about two years all of the other provinces and territories had followed suit.
To see how BC's Veteran plate stacks up against similar plates from across Canada, Click Here!
In British Columbia, the drive to create a Veteran's plate was spearheaded by the British Columbia Veterans Commemorative Association (BCVCA) under Lt.Col (Ret’d) Archie M. Steacy, and Veterans Affairs Canada Pacific Region (VACPR) under Sharel Fraser.  Following a meeting that was held in early 2004 in which the Premier, Gordon Campbell, and Solicitor General, Rich Coleman, met with Steacy and Fraser to discuss the possibility of proceeding with such an initiative, the concept of a Veteran's plate "was embraced without hesitation and ... officially sanctioned by the B.C. Government."
A Working Group was subsequently established by the Premier with representation from BCVCA, VACPR and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), and was charged with the task of recommending a design for the plate. According to Sharel Fraser, "all members of the Working Committee offered suggestions and submitted these to the ICBC design team. Through collaborative effort, two final designs were chosen for consideration by the Working Committee."
While the design of the plate that was not chosen has yet to come to this writer's attention, the story behind the one we have all become familiar with (and which is plastered all over this particular web page) is a very interesting one.  
Apparently, the internal ICBC department charged with creating a plate out of the Working Committee's suggestions was given a timeframe of only two months in which to come up with a design.  The initial designs were deemed to be unsatisfactory and, as time ticked away, the team creating the plate could not come up with a suitable design.  Things got to the point that two days before a deadline, one of the team members phoned Veterans Affairs in Ottawa to request that someone take some high quality digital photos of the National War Memorial.  As one would expect to happen in these circumstances, the photos provided by Veterans Affairs did not turn out as expected.
So, another design team member went surfing on the Internet and found a "striking image" on what has been stated to be the National War Memorial web site. In the true spirit of any creative process, this picture was duly expropriated for the task at hand, cropped; altered to extend the sky; and overlaid with a poppy, Canadian flag and the words "British Columbia" and "Veteran" and, voila - an instant license plate!

Following some intrepid sleuthing by this writer, it is believed that the image that served as the inspiration for the Veteran plate's design has been tracked down (and it did not come from the Veterans Affairs web site!):

As can be seen in this series of photos, the photo on the Veteran's plate comes from a much larger image.  The photo at left is a partial shot of the War Memorial and shows the 22 bronze figures advancing through the archway of the monument - figures which represent the "Great Response" of Canadians who served during the First World War. The middle image is a close-up of the first three figures, while the image at right is how the middle scene was worked into the license plate.


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.