North

What time change? Atlin, B.C., opts to stick to Yukon time

While the rest of their province enjoys an extra hour of sleep tonight, people in Atlin, B.C., have decided to skip the seasonal time change this year.

Residents in remote northern town decide they have no time for seasonal time change

Atlin is in B.C., but the only road to the small community comes from Yukon and Whitehorse is just a 2-hour drive away. Many Atlin residents feel more connected to Yukon than B.C. (Matthew McFarlane/CBC)

While the rest of their province enjoys an extra hour of sleep tonight, people in Atlin, B.C., have decided to skip the seasonal time change this year.

"Yeah, it was an overwhelmingly positive vote to stick with Yukon's time," said Heather Keny, who lives in the remote northern town.

Atlin may technically be in B.C., but many residents feel more closely tied to Yukon — after all, the only road into the remote northern town comes from Yukon, and Whitehorse is just a two-hour drive.

The seasonal time change was never much of an issue for Atlin before last winter. That's when Yukon opted out for the first time, falling out of synch with B.C. time through the darkest months.

It became a bit of a pain for many Atlinites. 

"I mean, we're so connected to the Yukon, you know, with appointments and flying and all of that," Keny said.

"So many of us last winter, you know, we had two clocks going in our houses just to keep track — because people were missing appointments, you know, special doctor's appointments that you've been waiting for months ... that happened to a number of people."

Yukon is now an hour ahead of B.C time for half the year. (Laura Howells/CBC)

Atlin is unincorporated, and so residents collectively call a lot of their own shots. The self-governing Taku River Tlingit First Nation is based there, but there's no local municipal government.

So the time change decision started with an online petition and eventually enough people weighed in against "falling back" this weekend.

"The town definitely rallied together," Keny said.

"I'm curious to see what it will be like with life being darker later in the morning."

'Smooth transition' in Yukon

B.C. actually passed legislation in 2019 to drop the seasonal time change, and that was part of what initially prompted Yukon to consider it.

But while Yukon went ahead and took the plunge last year, B.C. hasn't yet followed through.

Yukon officials say it's all gone smoothly. Andrew Smith, inter-governmental relations analyst for the Yukon government, says there were "major technical challenges" to prepare for last year, but they've all been sorted out by now.

"Our biggest connection to the South is airlines, so we had some big conversations with international organizations who deal with airline schedules," Smith recalled.

'People really appreciate having a little bit of extra light at the end of the day,' said Andrew Smith, an analyst with the Yukon government. (Submitted by Andrew Smith)

"I think Yukon has it less complicated than some other places. But there was lots of work to get that aligned so that it was a smooth transition."

Smith says the feedback he's heard from Yukoners about the change last year is mostly good.

"People really appreciate having a little bit of extra light at the end of the day, and that's what we've ended up with, with our time zone," he said.

"You know, they can go for a ski, for a jog, run some errands with a little bit of daylight left in the day." 

With files from George Maratos and Elyn Jones

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