North

Yellowknifers launch petition to eliminate seasonal time changes in N.W.T.

Julian Morse of Yellowknife says switching to and from daylight standard time is 'an inconvenience' and 'frustrating,' and the Northwest Territories should join Saskatchewan in abolishing it.

'There's really no good justification for turning the clocks back,' says Julian Morse

Every spring, we need a reminder: change your clock an hour ahead. Every fall, we need a reminder: set back your clocks one hour.

For Julian Morse in Yellowknife, that "spring forward" and "fall back" cycle is inconvenient and he says, unnecessary.

"When I'm out doing recreational activities or I'm out working on weekends in my yard, the sun goes down an hour earlier than I feel it should and so it just gives me that much less time during the day to do the things that I want to do.

Julian Morse has started a petition to eliminate daylight standard time in the Northwest Territories. (submitted)

"It's mostly just that I find it to be an inconvenience and it's frustrating because there's really no good justification for turning the clocks back."

Morse is a city councillor in Yellowknife, but says he's taking on this issue as an ordinary resident of the Northwest Territories.

He and another Yellowknifer, Lena Schofield, both independently approached the government to push the change.

The movement has now taken on the form of an official petition to the legislative assembly to eliminate daylight standard time in the territory, adopting daylight saving time year round — the same system currently being used in Saskatchewan.

Morse said he took the idea to his MLA, Cory Vanthuyne, who he said was supportive, and then started the petition to gauge public interest.

Werner Antweiler, a professor of economics at the Sauder School of Business for the University of British Columbia, has looked at studies written over the last 10-15 years on this debate.

"We pay the cost in the spring, we don't get anything back in the fall," he says.

He says the rationale behind daylight time was to conserve electricity.

"Researchers looked at this switch and tried to figure out did people actually end up conserving electricity after the switch and it turned out, they didn't. In fact they used a little bit more electricity than before."

Werner Antweiler, a professor of economics at the Sauder School of Business for the University of British Columbia, says 'Daylight savings time isn't really giving us anything, it's costing us.' (submitted by Werner Antweiler)

Antweiler says the downside is most noticeable in the spring switchover, when we lose an hour.

"Most people really only make that switch when they have to go to work on that following Monday," he says.

He says researchers have looked at car accidents and found an increase in hospital admissions, and fatalities. Antweiler also says studies show markets and stock prices go down and people are on the internet more, rather than focusing on work. 

"People have done studies on this and they do find people are not as quite as productive on that Monday."

So, is it time to revisit time? Antweiler says yes.

"Daylight savings time isn't really giving us anything, it's costing us. Why are we doing this? Is it just a habit?"

The e-petition "Eliminate Time Change in the Northwest Territories" closes Jan. 30, after which he will bring to Vanthuyne to table it in the legislative assembly.

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