The SVAO: Dedicated to the protection and preservation of Specialty Vehicles

Newsletter Fall 2006

Attention: (Car Club recipients) Please ensure that this newsletter is forwarded to your club editor for reprint in your club publication. Any and all content of our newsletter may be reproduced and we encourage you to do so. Text files are available by email in Word format. Call the hotline or email - Editor

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Greetings to one and all in the old car hobby. The executive of the Specialty Vehicle Association of Ontario announces that its AGM will be held at the Century Gardens Recreation Centre, 340 Vodden St.E. (Vodden & Rutherford) in Brampton on Sat., Oct. 28, 2006 at 1:00 pm. Come out and bring your questions and concerns regarding licensing, emissions, insurance, municipal storage by-laws as well as the future direction of the SVAO. We need a good turnout of members as well as some new volunteers to help out. If issues are to be dealt with, we need people who will be part of the team working on that issue. Who is going to look after your old car concerns with the government if there is no SVAO?

Misuse of Historic Plates

Something that is often referred to the SVAO by some of our members is the perceived misuse of  Historic Plates. In that regard, here is the wording of the appropriate act:
Highway Traffic Act
Code de la route
R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 628
Amended to O. Reg. 183/05
“historic vehicle” means, despite the definition in subsection 7 (1.1) of the Act, a motor vehicle that,
(a) is at least 30 years old,
(b) is operated on a highway in parades, for purposes of exhibition, tours or similar functions organized by a properly constituted automobile club or for purposes of repair, testing or demonstration for sale,
(c) is substantially unchanged or unmodified from the original manufacturer’s product, and
(d) does not have attached to it year-of-manufacture plates;

The SVAO would like to especially draw your attention to part(c). This part basically means that the vehicle is stock as the factory would have built it. If you run into some of those people who want to be a "country lawyer" and argue that their Chevy V-8 hot rod fits this catagory, just suggest that they ask the local constabulary or MTO offcial for an interpretation. In addition, the owner of the misplated vehicle has committed a fraud when he/she signed the license application as it requires that the vehicle meets the above criteria. Since the privatization of the licensing offices, we have had reports that some offices suggest that Historic Plates are appropriate for any 30 year old vehicle but such is not the case and will not get the owner off of the hook if charged with improper licensing. Reinforcement of this statute has been sent out to the offices by the government. Know the law and follow it is the best advice we can offer.
 The SVAO, along with a number of its member clubs, have been trying to get some new licensing catagories from the provincial ministry for a number of years and this perceived misuse of historic plates doesn't help our efforts.
With that in mind, here's director Bruce Stewart's thoughts on licensing.
Collector Plates

It is time for collector car licensing provisions to be revisited by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. SVAO representatives have conducted a number of meetings with ministry officials regarding Ontario’s need for a “Collector” license plate and we feel that now is the time to reopen the dialogue. Other jurisdictions have Collector plates. In fact, collector vehicles are licensed by some jurisdictions at no cost in recognition of their historical value to the population at large.

Owner surveys in Canada and other countries have indicated that the average annual use of hobby vehicles is approximately four hundred miles or less than six hundred and fifty kilometers. This number should be borne in mind in any discussions of licensing and also in any discussions regarding emissions and testing.

Currently, there are only three viable alternatives for the plating of “toy” cars:

  • Regular plates
  • Historical plates
  • Year of Manufacture plates (problems will be dealt with in another issue)

Regular Plates

Regular plates are certainly an option for those wishing to use their older vehicles beyond what is allowed by the historic plate restrictions. Regular plates allow unlimited use but are expensive. The cost of about twenty cents per mile of use is certainly excessive. However, it’s not so much the cost as the principle in this case.

Historical plates

There are in excess of 9,000 historically plated vehicles in Ontario. Historical plates are far too restrictive for many members of our community who desire moderate use of their vehicles. We advocate minor changes to the Highway Traffic Act with regard to historic plates. The vehicle eligibility age needs to be dropped to twenty-five years from the present thirty and no charge should be made for annual license renewals. If the usage restrictions are rigidly enforced these vehicles cannot be used for regular transportation.

These vehicles represent a large part of the province's heritage and are functioning reminders of one of the primary economic engines in Ontario’s evolution as the leader of Canada’s development.

We recommend that the constraints on historically plated vehicles remain similar to those currently in effect:

·    The vehicle must be a minimum of twenty-five years old rather than the present thirty years. This would bring Ontario into line with other Canadian jurisdictions and the international community. Currently, in the UK, any vehicle 25 years or older, roadworthy and insured is licensed for free. While desirable, we feel that a similar program in Ontario is some time away.

·    The vehicle must be substantially unchanged or from the original manufacturers specifi­cations. This is unchanged but perhaps could be amended to allow modifications made specifi­cally for safety and/or environmental considerations.

·    The vehicle may be used on public highways for exhibitions, tours or similar functions or­ganized by properly constituted automobile clubs and for parades. This is in line with current regula­tions.

·    No renewal of an Historic plate should be required. The license should be valid for as long as the vehicle exists and continues to be operated by the current owner as an “Historic” motor vehicle. This change would bring Ontario into line with other Canadian jurisdictions and the international community.

·    The regu­lations covering historical license plates should be strictly enforced. SVAO continues to urge its member clubs to ensure that all abuse of historical plates be stopped.

We have heard that some insurance companies insist that older vehicles be historically plated even though they might not qualify to legally carry an Historic plate. This has been prevalent with modified vehicles and exposes the owner to substantial liability should the vehicle’s use be questioned after an accident. Illegal use of an Historic plate could be cause for the insurance carrier to void the insurance policy even if the company itself insisted on the plate.

"Specialty" or "Collector" Plates

A number of years ago the province of British Columbia instituted a "Collector" license plate. These were originally for use only on older stock vehicles but the program has recently been expanded to encompass modified and customized vehicles. Over ten thousand vehicles carried Collector plates in 1996, the last year for which we have data.

We think that the time has come for Ontario to follow this lead. A number of meetings have been held with MTO licensing policy personnel. These meetings were, to some extent, involved with a close examination of our suggestions which led us to believe that we were making progress and made us more positive than was probably warranted. One piece of information gleaned from these meetings was that, at the policy level, MTO seemed unaware of the flagrant misuse of historical plates.

A number of arguments were presented to bolster our case for a collector plate program.

  • The precedent for a collector plate exists in BC and other North American jurisdictions.
  • It would be less expensive for the average collector who, contrary to popular opinion, is not independently wealthy.
  • It could be structured to require less work on the ministry’s behalf and, therefore, reduce ministerial costs.
  • It would provide a medium for tracking collector vehicles and would give them a bit higher profile in the community at large.
  • It is a small price to pay for the maintenance of Ontario’s heritage, particularly in view of the vast impact of the automotive industry on our economy.

MTO officials would, apparently, be willing to look more favorably on our request if it were part of a national standardization of provincial and territorial statutes and regulations. We were put in contact with the Canadian Council of Motor Vehicle Administrators and a presentation was made to the national body but there does not seem to be any movement toward standardization.

The following restrictions are suggested for an Ontario Collec­tor plate. These are based on the best features of collector plate provisions in each of the provinces and states

·    Annual stickers should cost 10% of that of a regular plate.

·    There should be no age restriction on the issuing of these plates.

·    The annual mileage of specialty or collector plated vehicles should be strictly regulated (say 8,000 kilome­ters or 5,000 miles). If the vehicle exceeds this limit the owner must, at renewal time, pay the full regular plate sticker cost for the new year after paying the remainder of full license fee for the year just ending; this before a renewal sticker can be issued. While mileage is reported at license renewal, we understand that these data are not stored in the Ministry of Transportation computer. This should be changed. In addition to the obvious consumer benefit with respect to used cars, storing vehicle mileage would be helpful in tracking mileage of population segments and could form the basis for vehicle license plate policy.  We are sur­prised that MOT is not presently using this data.

·    A specialty plated vehicle cannot be for primary transportation.

·    A specialty or collector plated commercial vehicle cannot carry a load for profit.

·    An original Ontario license plate of the vehicle's year of manufacture may be registered to the vehicle and used in lieu of a Specialty Vehicle Plate.

One reason for MTO’s refusal to consider a different plate was the inability of the MTO database to handle another class of license. Database upgrades in the pipeline could correct this shortcoming. MTO proposed our use of a graphic plate (much the same as that purchased by Maple Leaf and Blue Jay fans) and a regular price renewal sticker. This was an interesting concept but increased rather than decreased the operating costs of a collector vehicle. We suggested that a graphic plate be used in conjunction with a lower cost sticker. This would add some cost up front but would result in long-term savings. The SVAO is pursuing the implementation of a collector plate in Ontario.

1:00 pm @ the Century Gardens Recreation Centre, 340 Vodden St.E. (Vodden & Rutherford) in Brampton.


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