Wealthy Alberta can't afford number plates redesign

CALGARY, Alberta - Tough economic times have convinced Canada's wealthiest province, Alberta, to forgo a redesign of its car number plates because of the cost.

Despite a lengthy public consultation process on a new look for its number plates that began in 2007, Alberta has decided just to add another number to its existing number plates 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 number 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 number plate, but go with four numbers following three letters.

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 number plates at a later date.

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

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