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Ontario is dropping its redesigned blue licence plates and reverting to the old white plates because of “visibility issues,” Premier Doug Ford’s office says.

The new licence plates were the source of controversy in February after concerns were raised by police and others that the plates are not easily readable in the dark.

After initially denying there was a problem, the government later said it was working on fixing the issue. On Wednesday, Mr. Ford’s office said he has decided to drop the redesign.

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“Under very specific lighting conditions, stakeholders identified visibility issues due to glare. As a result, further work is needed,” the statement said.

“As such, the Premier has decided that the redesign of the new licence plate will no longer proceed.”

Mr. Ford said Wednesday the plates haven’t been top of mind because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Right now, I’m just not ready to put any more resources toward this. We’ll run through all the inventory of existing plates we have and also look at ways to use the new plates for non-passenger vehicles,” he said at his daily news conference at Queen’s Park. “There’s no additional cost to the taxpayers.”

The new plates were two shades of blue with white writing, replacing ones that were primarily white with blue writing. They also had a new slogan, “A place to grow,” replacing “Yours to discover.”

Government Services Minister Lisa Thompson, who initially defended the new plates and derided the previous version as “Liberal plates,” earlier said her government is working with manufacturing company 3M Canada to resolve the visibility issue. The white plates sometimes peeled and flaked, but predated the previous Liberal government.

The province said Wednesday it will continue using the “Yours to discover” white embossed licence plate and has resolved a “delamination issue” with the old plate.

Approximately 145,000 of the new plates were manufactured while the government was testing them. The government is “exploring all options to use these plates where they would be appropriate for an alternative use, such as trailers or recreational vehicles.”

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In the interim, the province will continue to distribute all remaining passenger plates, including the existing supply of blue licence plates.

“Additionally, as a result of COVID-19, we are asking Ontarians not to visit a ServiceOntario centre to exchange their licence plates unless it is absolutely necessary,” Mr. Ford’s office said.

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