A famous German physicist once said time is relative.
And when it comes to proposed changes to daylight savings time, the provincial government has made the issue relatively confusing.
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka stopped by a monthly regional district meeting to explain the changes and how it will affect residents in the riding, which is in a different time zone than the rest of the province.
The proposed change under Bill 40 — the Interpretation Amendment Act — would see a year-round observance of Daylight Saving Time, calling it Pacific Time. It is meant to align with other time changes being proposed in the northwestern United States and western Canada.
The new Pacific Time is seven hours behind the standardized Coordinated Universal Time.
However, the challenge is that there are two other time zones in the province — Creston operates on Mountain Standard Time as does the Peace region, while, the East Kootenay observes Mountain Daylight Savings Time.
But the proposed change moving to permanent Pacific Daylight Savings Time includes language in the legislation that would let municipalities in the East Kootenay control their own destinies.
“Essentially what it says, is communities that use MST or MDT, it is up to them, up to those jurisdictions, that they stay the same all year long, or change between the two,” Shypitka said.
“So in other words, if Cranbrook wanted to go to Mountain Standard Time, we would just make an application to the province and we could jump on board — that’s essentially what Creston did. So anybody that observes MST or MDT can have that latitude…”
Let’s go further down the rabbit hole.
The new change moving to Pacific Daylight Savings Time, would align up with Mountain Standard Time.
“Essentially, we would have, more than likely if this all happens — if the U.S. coordinates with us — two different time zones with the same time,” Shypitka said. “So Mountain Standard Time will be the exact same as Pacific Time.
So what does this all mean for the East Kootenay?
If the rest of the province goes to the new Pacific Time, it’s up to municipalities to decide whether or not to go along with it. Alberta is going through the same process determining how they want to standardize time.
Shypitka suggests waiting for Alberta’s review to be completed before moving forward, given the region’s ties to the neighbouring province.
From there, East Kootenay municipalities can decide what time they want to observe as a collective he added.
“I think it would be great if we all kind of got together on the same page, thought about it, chatted about it,” Shypitka said. “It’s not going to happen for quite some time, it’s just food for thought right now.”
Implementation, if it does go forward, would begin after ‘springing forward’ an hour in March, and then leaving the clocks alone in the fall.
Sparwood Mayor David Wilks wondered what would happen if Sparwood decided to remain on Mountain Standard Time if the rest of communities in the East Kootenay opted into the new permanent Mountain Daylight Savings time.
Wilks also suggested moving ahead without necessarily waiting to align with Alberta, which got some pushback from Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick.
“I think what Alberta does is absolutely critical to us,” MCCormick said. “Having a discussion with any of the tourists who come out here, one hour to Albertans is huge and I think we need to take that into consideration or risk upending the whole pattern of tourism traffic which is going to have a major impact on all of our communities out here.”