Alberta’s growing population has finally outnumbered possible provincial licence plate combinations.

Since 1983, standard Alberta licence plates have been printed with a unique six-character combination in an ABC-123 configuration. New plates will now be printed with an additional numeral.

“We simply ran out of combinations,” said Cam Traynor, Service Alberta spokesperson. “The introduction of seven-character plates with the additional fourth number will serve us for many years to come.”

The “Wild Rose Country” plate design will remain the same despite earlier considerations for a revamp.

“Albertans were supportive of a design change. However, it would have cost $15 million to replace all the plates,” said Traynor.

The redesign was held back due to a change in the government’s spending priorities, said Traynor.

“Once funding comes in, a redesign may be possible.”

Not all possible combinations of the original six-character plates have been used. During the 2004 mad cow disease outbreak, Alberta recalled many plates beginning with the letters BSE.

Other plates with letter combinations difficult to read, such as II, were also left unused.

Rumour of the possible return of the front vehicle plates are false, to the relief of many Albertans. Eighty per cent of drivers are opposed to front tags, according to a government survey.

The new plate combinations are expected to last for at least 10 years to 20 years.

Veteran and vanity plate designs and availability will remain the same.