By Dale Boyd
The next time British Columbians turn their clocks ahead is poised to be the last, an achievement Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson is calling her legacy after announcing her retirement from politics earlier this year.
“It was a good day today. You know, it feels really good. As most of the people in my riding know I’m not going to run again in the next election, and so this is something that, hopefully, I can say is my legacy,” Larson said.
The legislation introduced Thursday in Victoria amends the bi-annual time change and gives Premier John Horgan the ability to enact the year-round Daylight Savings Time sometime in the future that “maintains alignment with Washington, Oregon, California and Yukon, which are all in the process of creating or enacting similar legislation,” the province stated in a press release.
British Columbians will still be “falling back” this weekend and “springing forward” in 2020 when it is presumed the switch will be made to the Pacific Time Zone, except for the areas of B.C. already on Mountain Time.
“So the idea being that between now and what would be this time next year, that the states to the south of us would have ample time to change if they were going to. This is one of those things where we do not need to wait for them to do this. We can do it at any time,” Larson said.
Washington and other states are still awaiting congressional approval, and in the case of California, permanent DST legislation has been delayed.
“I think it’s more important if they’re going to go (to permanent DST) that certainly Washington State to the south of us is the one that we’re in tune with, you know, so I’m not so worried about California,” Larson said.
Larson spent the past three years lobbying the province to end the “archaic” practice, and was joined by 93 per cent of roughly 223,000 British Columbians surveyed this year in her desire to end time changes in B.C. once and for all.
Read more: Larson retiring from provincial politics
The process started with year-after-year Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) motions out of Grand Forks and continued to gain traction with the help of a group of Kamloops residents gathering about 25,000 signatures on a petition over two years ago.
“And once I got started, boy did the correspondence ever start to come in. As soon as people knew that this was a possibility they started to send emails and write letters and you know, pretty well non-stop for the last two and a half years,” Larson said.
She acknowledged not everyone will be happy about the change.
“There were a few that were against it. You know, some of them have issues with the dark mornings in the winter, but the majority of people basically looked at it as more daylight when the weather is warmer,” Larson said. “When it’s cold it doesn’t sort of matter so much that it’s dark, for most people, so I think that that probably had was part of what people were thinking when they said, no, we want to stay on the daylight one.”
Beyond that, Larson pointed to the health benefits and studies pointing to the detriments of losing an hour of sleep once a year.
“In the long run, it’s to the benefit certainly of the economy as well as individuals from a health perspective. So there’s all kinds of different bills on the table now in different areas around the world,” Larson said. “Almost 80 per cent of the people do not switch. There’s only about 20 per cent of the world that actually does.”
Pacific time will be seven hours behind co-ordinated universal time (UTC), the same difference observed during daylight saving time.
“While the bill doesn’t immediately shift the province to permanent DST, it puts us in position to do so quickly,” Premier Horgan said. “This legislation is a signal to British Columbians that their collective voice has been heard and that our government is attending to every detail in preparation to do away with the biannual time change once and for all.”