93% of British Columbians want to scrap changing clocks for daylight time, survey says

More than 93 per cent of British Columbians who responded to a government survey want to do away with changing their clocks twice a year and make daylight time permanent, the province says.

A statement Tuesday said the desire for time to be left alone was consistent throughout B.C., with more than 90 per cent of respondents in each of the province’s regions throwing support behind the idea.

“The people of British Columbia have spoken and their collective voice has come through loudly and clearly,” Premier John Horgan wrote in the statement Tuesday.

The province launched its online survey asking for feedback about daylight time earlier this year. Most areas of B.C. currently “spring forward” into daylight time in March then “fall back” to standard time in November.

If daylight time is kept year-round, meaning no clock changes, sunrise would be later in the winter in B.C. That means it could stay dark until as late as 9 a.m. PT in Vancouver or 9:30 a.m. in northern communities like Prince George.

“That extra hour [of light] in the evening, would really make a difference,” said Bob Dieno, co-founder of Stop the Time Change in B.C.

“When it’s dark out, people hibernate and when it’s light out, people do things.”

Dieno has been advocating against the time change for years and said he’s happy about the survey response.

“It really sends a strong message to the government that we want this stopped,” he said.

“Let’s hope that Premier Horgan does what he says he’ll do and puts an end to this.”

More than 223,000 residents responded to the survey — nearly 12 times the amount of responses the government got for its public consultations on the regulation of cannabis.

Three-quarters said health concerns were the driving reasons behind their support for scrapping the clock change. More than half noted the benefits of extra daylight during their evening commutes in winter, while 39 per cent mentioned other safety concerns in their responses.

West Coast alignment

Horgan has previously said B.C. would stick to its time-changing ways because the province needs to keep with time in neighbouring jurisdictions. More than half of respondents agreed, saying it was “important” or “very important” that B.C. be aligned with its neighbours when it comes to keeping time.

In Alberta, proposed legislation that would have ended daylight time in the province won overwhelming public support in 2017. However, the Alberta legislature shot down the idea this week after an all-party committee said the impact on business would be too onerous.

Saskatchewan has never practised daylight time, having rejected the idea when it first took hold more than 50 years ago.

If British Columbia moves to permanent daylight time, as respondents want to do, it means the province won’t “fall” back in November while most of the country still will.

It would mean B.C. and its neighbour to the east, Alberta, would be on the same time for four months, until Alberta springs forward to return to standard time in March. It also means B.C. would only be two hours behind Ontario over the winter, rather than the usual three hours for the rest of the year.

Legislators from the three U.S. states aligned with B.C. — Washington, Oregon and California — proposed bills this year that would end the one-hour time changes from standard time to daylight time in spring, then back again in fall, instead sticking to one time setting year-round.

Horgan said in March he sent a letter to the three governors of those states, requesting they share information on the proposed change.

More than two dozen other U.S. states are considering measures to avoid the twice-yearly clock change. Federal law in the U.S. allows states to opt into standard time permanently — which Hawaii and Arizona have done — but opting out is prohibited and requires congressional action.

Horgan said the results of the survey will be incorporated as B.C. moves toward its decision.

“This engagement has done exactly as we hoped it would in providing clarity about a preferred direction. The insights generated will be relied upon as we make a final decision about how to move forward,” the premier wrote.

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