'GO HOME!': UBCO student explains disclaimer on truck with Washington licence plate - InfoNews

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'GO HOME!': UBCO student explains disclaimer on truck with Washington licence plate

A truck was spotted in a Kelowna parking lot with this disclaimer July 28.
July 31, 2020 - 7:00 AM

A UBCO student who stuck a disclaimer on the back of his truck to explain his Washington State licence plate said he did so hoping to avoid escalating conflicts.

The magnet, stuck to the back of his truck similar to a new driver 'N' sign, reads “I am a UBC Okanagan student, I have lived here for three years with my truck, thank you for understanding.”

Originally from Minnesota, the student, who requested anonymity for his safety, put on the magnet after his girlfriend’s father came up with the idea. He has spent most of his life in Japan and is currently studying political science at UBCO. The truck has a Washington licence plate because that’s where his grandparents live and he was able to find a deal on a truck there, he said.

“I was getting notes on my car and there was an incident where someone followed me,” he said.

READ MORE: Revelstoke mayor asks residents to welcome visitors after Alberta-licence plate controversy 

The note said “Go Home!”, and he wanted to take a preventative step to ensure these types of incidents don’t escalate, he said.

He hopes by speaking out it will make people more aware of others with out-of-province plates.

“It just gives context and I think when most people are making a split-second decision to write notes, or take photos or follow people, at the moment they’re angry about some larger thing so by putting context there, people will second guess some of their actions,” he said.

“As someone who has lived in other places around the world... I feel pretty welcome in Canada, so it’s not bad.”

Over the last few months, reports of those with out-of-province plates being harassed by local residents have been common. In June, Revelstoke’s mayor put out a statement asking residents to be welcoming of visitors after a resident with Alberta plates found a nasty note attached to his vehicle.

While homebase for the student is California, in the last year he hasn’t made any trips to the U.S. because of COVID-19, he said.

He never switched over his plate to B.C. because, in normal circumstances, he visits family multiple times a year and he wasn’t aware of ICBC’s exemption for students. If he switched over his plate, he thinks he will also become an N driver, which would be a hassle, he said.

On ICBC’s website, it states that students can apply for an exception as long as their vehicle is properly insured in their home jurisdiction and that they are enrolled full time at a recognized B.C. post-secondary institution. Once exempt, students are provided with a decal that they stick to the windshield of their vehicle and must carry a permit. Tourists may drive with their existing plates for up to six months, according to ICBC’s website.

“For the last few years this hasn’t been a big deal, but this last year is the first time I’ve spent so much time in Canada,” he said.

The Canada-US border has also been closed for months with the exception of essential travel.

“This year’s a bit of a situation because of the pandemic, if I were to go back to the states, I theoretically may not be able to come back,” he said. “Just to be safe I decided to stay local.”

This week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry asked British Columbians to be understanding of those with different licence plates. She said in a press conference, July 28, that she’s aware of people that have come home to look after elderly family members.

“We need to respect that,” she said. “We also need to respect that many people have been here for a long time. They may have done their isolation, and they are members of our community and we need to treat everybody with kindness and with respect. We do not know everybody's story.”

Premier John Horgan has suggested for out-of-platers to avoid harassment by taking alternative forms of transportation such as public transit or a bike.

READ MORE: Horgan advises drivers with non-B.C. plates to take the bus to avoid harassment

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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