Drivers around the province cannot fail to have noticed many vehicles sporting the BC Parks licence plates that were introduced in January 2017, with all net profits from the sale and renewal fees ($50 and $40 respectively) reinvested in B.C.’s provincial parks through the Parks Enhancement Fund.
The licence plates feature three distinctly British Columbian scenes: a Kermode bear in the Great Bear Rain Forest; the Purcell Mountains; and Porteau Cove. Joanna Linsangan of ICBC media relations says that they did not know what to expect when the plates went on sale, as there was nothing to compare them to.
“We expected to sell 37,000 plates by 2022,” she says. “We sold more than 100,000 in almost 18 months, and $2.3 million has been raised so far. They make vehicles that much more unique.” She adds that there is no end date to the program that she knows of.
The Kermode bear design has been the most popular with 36,936 plates sold, followed by the Purcell Mountains, with 35,030 sales, and Porteau Cove, with 29,102 sales. Starting in summer 2018, customers with a fleet insurance policy will be able to purchase plates for all their fleet vehicles.
“Selling more than 100,000 BC Parks plates this quickly is a significant accomplishment,” says Sharon Craver, interim vice-president of insurance strategy, product and pricing, ICBC. “We look forward to seeing how many more plates are sold now that they’re available for fleet customers. ICBC is proud to be doing our part to support B.C.’s beautiful parks and conservation areas.”
Thanks to the funds generated by the specialty plates, young people throughout British Columbia have been given an opportunity to acquire a diverse range of job skills while working in the province’s spectacular natural environment, through the new BC Parks Student Ranger Program.
It is the first program established with the proceeds generated from the BC Parks licence plate sales. BC Parks is also contributing $30,000 from sales of the specialty plates to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation’s (HCTF) GO Grants Program.
The GO Grants Program provides funding for school field trips to provincial parks, and other natural areas, so students can learn about B.C.’s fish and wildlife habitats, as well as biodiversity, while fostering an appreciation for the environment. The trips give youth a chance to spend time outdoors and participate in hands-on learning activities, such as beach seining, releasing salmon fry, and nature scavenger hunts, as well as plant and animal identification.
Last year, licence plate funding supported outdoor learning in provincial parks for more than 700 students. Up to 2,500 students are anticipated to go on field trips this year, as demand for the program is at an all-time high.
“We want every student in B.C. to have the opportunity to experience first-hand the incredible diversity of animals and plants that are part of their communities,” says Ken Ashley, HCTF education committee member. “BC Parks’ contribution will enable an additional 2,100 students to participate this year. Connecting kids to nature helps build a conservation ethic that is critical to protecting B.C.’s biodiversity for future generations.”
The B.C. government is reinvesting all net proceeds from the sale and ongoing renewals of BC Parks licence plates back into provincial parks, to ensure meaningful action is taken to protect the environment and achieve B.C.’s conservation goals. More programs and projects funded from the proceeds of licence plate sales will be unveiled in the coming year.
“As the first type of specialty licence plate of its kind, we are proud that, due to the fervent support of British Columbians, the BC Parks plates program has, and will continue to, provide opportunities like this to enhance, protect, and conserve our parks and land,” says Nicolas Jimenez, interim president and CEO of ICBC.
For more information about BC Parks specialty licence plates, visit http://bit.ly/2JJkFVe.