British Columbia

Washington's governor urged B.C. premier to slow down move to permanent daylight time, memo shows

The memo, written by Gov. Jay Inslee’s advisers prior to a meetinig with Premier John Horgan in October, states that Horgan was “inclined to move forward before the time switch in November.”

John Horgan was 'inclined to move forward before the time switch in November,' governor's advisers said

Permanent daylight time was on the agenda when Premier John Horgan, left, met with Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee in October. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

B.C. should hit pause on the switch to permanent daylight time while western U.S. states figure out a path forward, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee told Premier John Horgan this fall.

Plans to abolish the twice-yearly time change were on the agenda Oct. 3 when Inslee and Horgan met up in Seattle, but the governor urged Horgan to proceed with caution, according to a memo provided to CBC.

The memo, written by Inslee's advisers, states that Horgan was "inclined to move forward before the time switch in November."

In their briefing notes, the advisers remind Inslee,: "you recommend that the premier wait until more information is available, because moving forward on permanent DST without the rest of the West Coast is a big gamble that could cause months (and perhaps even years) of disruption across the border."

B.C. legislators passed a bill in November that allows the province to make the switch.

"The legislation we introduced merely enables the province to make the change but doesn't set dates," the premier's press secretary, Jen Holmwood, pointed out in an email.

"Premier Horgan has always said we want to move in unison with our neighbours."

States 'in a holding pattern'

Inslee's memo suggests western states still face a number of roadblocks ahead, including necessary approval from the U.S. Congress, which the advisers suggest is not likely in the near future. 

The advisers also point out California has put a hold on its bill to allow permanent daylight time.

"Oregon's new law says it cannot move forward without California and Washington, so all of us are now in a holding pattern," the memo says.

A man moves the hands of a gigantic clock.
Permanent daylight time would mean less light on winter mornings which, experts say, can cause fatigue by disrupting circadian rythmns. (Elisa Amendola/Associated Press)

In the lead-up to introducing legislation to eventually abolish the time change, the B.C. government has trumpeted the results of a public opinion survey that resulted in 93-per-cent support for permanent daylight time.

But critics have pointed out that the survey didn't include permanent standard time — the time B.C. observes during the winter — as an option.

Scientists who study sleep and circadian rhythms have pleaded with the province to reconsider a switch to permanent daylight time, saying it will lead to serious fatigue because of a reduction in winter morning light.

Researchers say eliminating the time changes would be wise, but B.C. would be better served with permanent standard time.

With files from Ethan Sawyer