Feedback mixed on bill to rescind Daylight Saving Time in Alberta
The committee listening to presentations from residents about Bill 203, a private member's bill aimed at scrapping Daylight Saving Time, says the sessions have provided a number of outcomes.
The government says that about 75 percent of people they’ve spoken to say they want to get rid of the policy that sees a time change of one hour in the spring and the fall.
Graham Sucha, Calgary-Shaw MLA and chair of the committee, says the government decided to go forward with public information sessions to look at all the concerns.
"Whether it's economic, medical or personal, it's important that we hear from all Albertans from all walks of life."
Sucha says that the sessions so far have been mixed. "I think the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce described it best when they surveyed their members that a third of them wanted us aligned with B.C., a third wanted to align closer to Saskatchewan and a third wanted us to keep the time zone the way it was. It's made the task not any easier for the committee."
Earlier this year, Edmonton-Southwest MLA Thomas Dang proposed a bill to do away with Daylight Saving Time and put the province in step with our neighbours in Saskatchewan.
Jason Sokolosky says he doesn't want the current system to change because it would impact his recreation hours. "I see it as a reasonable way of adjusting winter hours and I especially like the summer hours."
If daylight saving is scrapped, he says it would make it difficult for him to enjoy all the outdoor activities he currently has.
"I do a lot of outdoor activities; running, mountain biking, cycling. If someone was to take away the summer part of this daylight saving time, it would be very difficult or it would limit those hours and it would put the summer hours in a part of the day that I don't think anyone would use."
He says Alberta having its own time zone isn't necessary and it could also hamper trade with B.C. and investment in the province.
Another presenter in Calgary, Dan Marko, says he would like to see daylight saving time disappear.
"I would like it to be one time all the time. I'm in IT and all the time in the fall and in the spring, it's a mess so I would like it alot if it would be one time and they should go with Saskatchewan time because every electronic device is set to Saskatchewan time so it would be perfect."
Other organizations, like the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, say that ditching daylight saving time would mean that many games would be starting too late for fans to watch.
Jeremy Freeborn, a hockey writer in Edmonton and Calgary, says that the youngest fans could end up falling out of touch with their favourite teams.
"The young fan base, the children in this province would not be as strongly connected to the Oilers and the Flames as they are now because they have to stay up later to watch their favorite hockey team. This does not make things easier."
Freeborn said he also told the committee that he doesn't think everyone has looked at all the issues. "This is one thing I thought of instantly since Bill 203 came into fruition.
The government is mulling over the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue, but a report estimates that that would cost between $2M and $6M when paired with a provincial election. A time vote on its own would cost nearly $22M.
Some say that that cost could end up being worth it.
"It will be a one-time cost to make that decision -- to give Albertans their voice -- versus what could be an ongoing cost of millions of dollars in lost economic opportunity for Alberta," said United Conservatives committee member Richard Gotfried.
Daylight Saving Time was brought into Alberta in 1971 and has been a long-running controversy ever since. Critics say it is an outdated and nettlesome concept that interrupts sleep patterns and causes confusion for little benefit.
The meeting in Calgary runs at the Coast Plaza Hotel until 9:00 p.m.
Public hearings began in Edmonton earlier this week and will continue in Lethbridge on Friday.
Once the hearings have been completed, Sucha says a report will be provided to the government along with recommendations on how to move forward with the bill.
"There's a lot of moving parts and a lot of people who could be impacted by this and I think it's important. I think the committee feels that its important that we hear from all Albertans to be sure that the decision is being made at the grassroots."
(With files from the Canadian Press)