February 18, 2009 / 6:44 PM / 9 years ago

Wealthy Alberta can't afford license plate redesign

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Tough economic times have convinced Canada’s wealthiest province, Alberta, to forgo a redesign of its automobile license plates because of the cost.

Despite a lengthy public consultation process on a new look for its plates that began in 2007, Alberta has decided just to add another number to its existing design rather than pay for the complete revamp it had planned.

“It simply doesn’t make sense to me to commit millions of dollars to replace all plates in the province this year,” Heather Klimchuk, minister for Service Alberta, said in a statement.

The province has used the existing design since 1983 which features red letters in an ABC-123 format on a white background and the slogan “Wild Rose Country” in blue. It expects to run through all the format’s available combinations later this year.

Instead of revising the plates Alberta will stick with its current plate, but go with four numbers following three letters.

Home to much of the country’s oil and gas industry, Alberta has Canada’s most robust public finances, posting 14 straight budget surpluses and paying off the provincial debt as its coffers swelled on contributions from energy production.

However the plunge in oil and gas prices has cut the province’s take from taxes and production royalties, with Premier Ed Stelmach saying earlier this month that Alberta would use its cash reserves this year to stay out of deficit.

The province said it will revisit plans to revamp its license plates at a later date.

“We will be ready when it makes economic sense to introduce a new plate for the province,” Klimchuk said.

Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Frank McGurty

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