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Atikokan revives age-old daylight saving time debate

Town councillors in Atikokan are considering changes to how people in the community tell time.

Hospital says switch to Daylight Saving Time will help with scheduling around regional medical services

Over the last few decades, Atikokan council has had three votes to follow daylight saving time, but none have passed. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Town councillors in Atikokan are considering changes to how people in the community tell time.

Atikokan is one of three Ontario communities that do not use daylight saving time.

But a presentation from the local hospital notes it may be easier co-ordinating schedules for regional medical services in the community, if daylight saving time was adopted.

Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown told CBC News it can be confusing when the community is on central time for one half of the year, and eastern for the other.
Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown says he was originally against changing to daylight saving time, but after hearing from many businesses, he's open to the idea. (www.atikokan.ca)

But he said many people are passionate about keeping time the way it is.

"It does create a lot of controversy ... when it's being discussed," he said, adding council will discuss the matter at its next committee of the whole meeting.

"From time to time, it does come up. But, you know, the people of Atikokan are satisfied with the way it is. They're satisfied we never have to change and I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I hope we just, you kind of have a quick discussion on it, and that's it."

'People like it the way it is'

The mines in Atikokan decided to use Daylight Savings time in the early 1950s to accommodate a shipping schedule, but it was dropped a few years later, and they never went back.

The mines closed in Atikokan around 1980, and people then asked about going to daylight savings.

Over the years, three votes have taken place to follow daylight saving time, but none have passed, Brown said.

Daylight saving time was used on a trial basis in 1985, but was shut down by a citizen's plebiscite group. The community tried again in 1988, and again in 1997 — but both efforts were shut down.

"We're on Thunder Bay time in the wintertime, and we're on northwestern Ontario time — like Dryden, Kenora, Fort Frances time — in the summertime," Brown said.

"It's existed that way since the 1950s, and we've tried three times in Atikokan in my lifetime to try and change, maybe go on Thunder Bay time, year-round.  I don't think there's much use in putting a lot of time and effort into this again, because we've tried, and the people like it the way it is."

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