More than two-thirds of the 13,500 Albertans who responded to a government survey say the province should scrap Daylight Saving Time.
Albertans were asked to weigh in on Bill 203, the Alberta Standard Time Act, which proposes to remove the fall time change. This means that Alberta would be on Mountain Daylight Time all year, on the same time as Saskatchewan.
The government released the results of the survey, which showed that 74 per cent of respondents were in favour of doing away with Daylight Saving Time. Approximately 3,000 people – or 24 per cent – were opposed to the move and 200 people – or one per cent – were undecided.
“I wasn’t surprised by the results of the consultation,” said NDP MLA Thomas Dang, who proposed the private member’s bill.
“I think it shows that Albertans care about this issue, they’re passionate about this issue.”
The public was asked to provide feedback on the bill by July 28 through an online form, via e-mail, fax or mail.
More than 13,000 of the 13,500 respondents did so using an online form, which asked the question: Should Bill 203, the Alberta Standard Time Act, be passed?
Respondents were then given the option to explain the reason for their answer. About 32 per cent of respondents did not fill out this section of the form, which was not mandatory.
If Bill 203 passes, it would come into effect in November 2018. There would be two hours difference between Alberta and B.C. from November to March and one hour difference between Alberta and B.C. from March to November. The time in Alberta would be the same as in Saskatchewan all year round.
Listen below: Newstalk 770’s Rob Breakenridge connects with MLA Thomas Dang, sponsor of Bill 203
Stakeholders weigh in
Stakeholders were also asked to weigh in on the debate. Several groups were in support of Bill 203, including Boyle Street Education Centre, Saint Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Fieldmen and the Horse Industry Association of Alberta.
Both Boyle Street Education Centre and Saint Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools said they find the twice-yearly time change stressful for students and disruptive to their sleep.
However, several organizations – including WestJet, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Edmonton International Airport – were against the idea.
WestJet is opposed to the move because it could have a negative impact on the company’s plans to make Calgary a global aviation hub.
“The economic advantages of a global airline housed in Alberta are numerous and far reaching,” WestJet said in a statement. “Potential inconsistencies caused by not following widely accepted daylight saving times programs will negatively impact our hub strategy in the province.”
Implementing the act would place Alberta two time zones away from British Columbia in the winter, WestJet explained, creating more early flight departures for travellers.
For example, when B.C. changes to Standard Time in November, departures would move back by an hour. Travellers leaving B.C. at 6 a.m. to make a connection in Edmonton or Calgary would have to depart at 5 a.m., WestJet explained.
“As you can appreciate, flight departures at 5 a.m. are unappealing to most travellers and many may choose alternate routings that bypass flying through Alberta to get to their final destination,” WestJet explained.
“This connecting traffic is foundational to the growth of WestJet’s Calgary hub and continued expansion in Edmonton. It also has a positive downstream impact on the strength of our services in Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie.”
Dang said there are other jurisdictions that don’t follow Daylight Saving Time and solutions can be found to accommodate everyone.
“I think that the solutions for those types of problems exist and we can move forward and make this bill something that works with Albertans.”
While presenting the results on Tuesday night, research officer Sarah Amato admitted that while the results of the survey offer an accurate representation of the submissions that were received, she couldn’t comment on the overall public opinion.
The largest number of responses came from Edmonton and Calgary, followed by Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
Public consultations will continue in a number of municipalities in Alberta, to hear from people in person, Dang said.
“What I think is going to be a big question is still going to be, ‘Which time zone do people want?’ And the survey and the consultation did address some of that. But I think that now we know that Albertans definitely want to stop, we need to choose a time to stay on.”
A legislative committee now has until Oct. 4 to compile a report to be presented to the Legislative Assembly.
What do you think?