Grand Forks led debate on B.C. time change

The city brought the question to other B.C. municipal governments in 2017

More than 200,000 British Columbians had their say and more than 90 per cent agreed: it’s time for the province to scrap bi-annual time changes.

According to a report released last week by the provincial government, people who identified as living in the West Kootenay region of the province showed the second-highest level of support for the change, which would see the province shift to follow only Daylight Saving Time (the time schedule used between spring and fall, known on the coast as Pacific Daylight Time). The change would effectively lead to darker winter mornings, but provide more daylight in the afternoon.

There was no Boundary option on this summer’s Daylight Saving Time provincial survey. The omission is notable, given that Grand Forks brought the discussion to the policy table two years ago.

At the 2017 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, the City of Grand Forks put forward a motion that the UBCM “petition the provincial government to consult with the people of B.C. with a view to abolishing Daylight Saving Time.”

From there, Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson picked up the idea and presented it as a bill in the B.C. Legislature.

“Once I started the process,” Larson said, “the calls [of support] kept coming in.”

Larson reintroduced her bill last March to her colleagues in the legislature, saying that “online surveys show that nearly 85 per cent of British Columbians were in support of ending time-shifting, and there continues to be growing public support in B.C. to stop this 101-year-old practice.”

One of the driving arguments for scrapping the time change, Larson said, is that B.C.’s southern neighbours and close economic partners are also considering the idea. Legislators in Washington, Oregon and California have all approved of a permanent switch to Daylight Saving Time, but in the U.S., the switch must be approved by Congress as well.

In March, Larson said that, given the Pacific states’ intentions, “It would be prudent that we maintain our good economic relationship with these west coast states and follow suit.”

After the survey’s release, Premier John Horgan indicated that B.C. may follow Washington, Oregon and California in order to stay in alignment.

“[Our government] will continue to monitor similar debates in neighbouring jurisdictions,” Horgan said, “keeping in mind the wide-ranging impacts. We want to make sure we consider every implication in determining what is right for B.C.”

However, Larson said she hoped that the overwhelming support for a permanent switch to Daylight Saving Time in B.C. could allow the province to adopt the change, thus encouraging west coast states to quicken their own implementation of the change.

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