The B.C. government has introduced a measure to end seasonal time changes, but clocks will still fall back this weekend – and daylight time will return in the spring.
“Today’s a very good day for those who are tired of changing their clocks," Premier John Horgan told reporters on Thursday after the introduction of the Interpretation Amendment Act – a proposed change that would allow cabinet to shift the province to permanent Pacific Daylight Time, which it would rename “Pacific Time.”
"We heard overwhelmingly from British Columbians that they wanted to stop the process of falling back and springing forward.”
The action follows a consultation process that found 93 per cent of respondents in British Columbia support the change.
But the province wants its neighbours to catch up first, so there is no timeline for when the change would occur. Mr. Horgan added that the province’s key trading partners in the U.S. Pacific Northwest are contemplating the same change, and he said he would bring it up with fellow premiers during a conference call on Friday.
If other jurisdictions don’t follow suit, he said, B.C. would still move ahead. “I’ve made a commitment to the people that we are going to go to a place where our clocks will remain as they are,” he said. Other jurisdictions will follow, he predicted: “I’m confident that they will catch up to us – this is not just a B.C. phenomenon.”
The proposed legislation would end the present system of seasonal shifts between Pacific Standard Time and Pacific Daylight Time. Currently, the province is on Pacific Daylight Time, but clocks “fall back” to standard time on Sunday morning at 1 a.m. It is expected that B.C. will make the permanent change in mid-March, after reverting back to daylight time. It would mean British Columbians would have an extra hour of light in the evenings throughout the winter.
However, the Premier said he is open to debate about whether the province should be permanently on standard time – meaning extra light in the winter mornings – and that can be studied in the months ahead. “There will be those who would prefer to stay on standard time, but it’s argued that the overwhelming number of British Columbians want to move to permanent daylight saving time,” he said.
Werner Antweiler, professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, said B.C. is on to something good. “For B.C., the single most important thing is to be in alignment with our trading partners to the south,” he said. “There is momentum all along the Pacific coast to move in this direction.”
The states of Washington, Oregon and California are important trading partners with B.C.
California voters approved the change in an initiative ballot, but legislators have not yet made the change. Oregon is moving toward the change, with approval in the Senate but not yet in the House. Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee signed a law earlier this year to move permanently to daylight time, but the change needs approval from the U.S. Congress, which has not indicated when or whether it would accept the shift.
B.C. could face pushback from sectors of the economy that still depend on trade with the rest of Canada.
Most of Canada – the main exception being Saskatchewan – observes the seasonal time changes of daylight time. (Certain regions of B.C., including the Peace and and Kootenays, follow Mountain Time with Alberta, and those areas would not be caught in the planned change to adopt a permanent state of Pacific Time.)
Alberta abandoned plans in 2017 to follow Saskatchewan’s lead. While Albertans broadly supported the change, the proposal faced opposition from industries such as airlines and hockey franchises that raised concerns about being out of step with other parts of Canada.