British Columbia

B.C. one step closer to making daylight time permanent after U.S. Senate votes to make the change

B.C.'s years-long campaign to scrap the twice-a-year time change saw a major boost this week after the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make daylight time permanent across that country by the end of next year.

Province has talked about permanent daylight time for years, but wants to stay aligned with nearby states

The Kerrisdale clock in Vancouver pictured on Nov. 8, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C.'s years-long campaign to scrap the twice-a-year time change saw a major boost this week, after the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make daylight time permanent across that country by the end of next year.

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would stop the changing of the clocks starting in November 2023. The Senate said the move would make the economy stronger, afternoons brighter and seasonal depression easier to fight.

To the north, B.C. Premier John Horgan said the vote brings the province one step closer to doing away with the time change.

"For B.C. families who have just had to cope with the disruptions of changing the clocks, the U.S. Senate bill passed today brings us another step toward ending the time changes in our province for good," Horgan said in a statement.

B.C. passed legislation in 2019 that would make daylight time permanent across the province, but said it would only be enacted once Washington state, Oregon and California do the same in order to keep the provincial economy aligned with its U.S. neighbours.

B.C.'s Interpretation Amendment Act allows for the province to create a new name for B.C.'s time zone — which would be Pacific Time — and get rid of the legislation that allows the semi-annual time change.

The act was introduced after a government survey found 93 per cent of British Columbians wanted to stop changing clocks twice a year and make daylight time permanent.

More than half of respondents also said it was "important" or "very important" B.C. be aligned with its neighbours when it comes to keeping time.

The Gastown Steam Clock is seen in Vancouver in 2019. B.C. has said it's ready to stay on permanent daylight time for years, but it's waiting for neighbouring jurisdictions to do the same. (Valerie Gamache/CBC)

If B.C. made daylight time permanent, sunrise would be later in the winter in B.C. It could stay dark until as late as 9 a.m. in Vancouver and 9:30 a.m. in communities further north, like Prince George. Afternoons and evenings would be brighter.

The change would not affect B.C.'s Peace Region or the Kootenay town of Creston, which have never changed clocks for daylight time. It would also not affect the East Kootenay region, which is currently aligned with the time in Alberta.

Three-quarters of British Columbians who took the 2019 survey 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.

Law in U.S. would put pressure on Canadian provinces

The Senate's measure still needs approval from the U.S. House of Representatives before it's presented to President Joe Biden, who has the final say.

If the legislation becomes law in the U.S., there would be pressure on other Canadian jurisdictions to follow suit. Cities like Toronto and Ottawa might be keen to have their clocks co-ordinated with those in New York and Washington for the same reasons B.C. wants to be in line with Washington and California.

In Canada, whether or not to change the clocks is a provincial decision.

Saskatchewan doesn't switch its clocks, remaining on standard time all year-round.

Yukon stopped observing a time change in November 2020, after the majority of residents who responded to a government survey voted in favour of permanent daylight time. 

A tight vote in Alberta last month revealed that B.C.'s eastern neighbours aren't likely to make the change; 50.2 per cent of Albertans voted to oppose moving to permanent daylight time and 49.8 per cent were in favour.

With files from Courtney Dickson, Alexander Panetta and Reuters

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