Committee scraps bill to create Alberta-only time zone

Click to play video: 'Time zone issue not dead yet according to Alberta Premier'
Time zone issue not dead yet according to Alberta Premier
WATCH: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to media after committee scraps bill to create Alberta-only time zone – Sep 19, 2017

The clocks will keep changing in Alberta… for now.

In a unanimous vote, the standing committee on Alberta’s economic future scrapped Bill 203, a private member’s bill which proposed to keep the province on mountain daylight time year-round. The move would have seen Alberta one hour ahead of British Columbia in the summer while being two hours ahead in the winter. Alberta and Saskatchewan would have been on the same time year-round.

Rather than move ahead with the proposed “Alberta Standard Time,” the committee will instruct the province to have discussions with other jurisdictions on a continental shift away from daylight saving.

Watch below: There will be no change to time changes in Alberta as MLAs have decided to lay the issue to rest. Fletcher Kent reports.

Click to play video: 'Standing committee scraps bill to create Alberta-only time zone'
Standing committee scraps bill to create Alberta-only time zone

NDP MLA Karen McPherson proposed the motion which effectively killed the bill. She said while she appreciated the negative effects time change can have on individuals and families, the economic impact of moving unilaterally to abandon time change was made very clear from the business sector.

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“We heard from stakeholders like WestJet and the Calgary and Edmonton international airports that their ability to be competitive could be quite severely compromised by Alberta making a change to observing daylight [saving] time isolation,” McPherson said.

“That’s certainly not something we want to see happen, we certainly don’t want to see that happen at this time in our province’s history when the economy is front of mind for many people.”

READ MORE: Thousands of Albertans want to get rid of Daylight Saving Time

LISTEN: John Himpe has details on the committee vote to scrap Bill 203

WestJet vice-president Brian Znotins told News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith the company is looking to expand its hubs in Calgary and Edmonton, but could find it difficult to do so with flights connecting in Alberta from British Columbia being affected for half the year.

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Znotins used the example of the airline’s recent addition of a flight from Alberta to Nashville as a route which could experience difficulties with the removal of time change.

“Appealing departure times are very important,” Znotins said. “If Alberta were to move two hours away from B.C., from a time zone perspective, it’s going to be a 5 a.m. departure for that Vancouver guest and they’re likely going to want to choose another routing rather than take a 5 a.m. departure on WestJet. They’ll fly via Denver or via Chicago; perhaps drive down to Seattle.”

LISTEN: WestJet is concerned about the province adopting Alberta Standard Time

“As we’re trying to build a connecting hub and we can’t attract guests from B.C. – about 10 per cent of our connecting guests are from BC – that would put a significant damper on our ability to grow and we would take airplanes from Alberta and reposition them elsewhere in the country.”

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The committee received over 13,000 written submissions from the public on the topic of time change. 74 per cent of those who responded were in favour of abandoning the changing of clocks, while 24 per cent were opposed to the bill.

LISTEN: Angela Kokott chats with MLA Thomas Dang, the man behind the bill.

Those who wished to see an end to time change said they considered the practice disruptive, antiquated, and of no benefit. Those opposed to Bill 203 expressed concern about being out of step with neighbouring jurisdictions and some considered the exercise a misplaced priority.

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