Time is ticking down to Monday’s municipal elections when — in addition to choosing mayors, councillors and school board trustees — Albertans will be asked two referendum questions, including that could upset our collective clocks.
The question is, “Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is summer hours, eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year?”
If Albertans vote yes, the province would then approach the federal government to initiate such discussions; a no vote means Albertans will continue changing their clocks twice a year.
But the referendum question holds extra significance for the city of Lloydminster, which straddles the boundary between Alberta and Saskatchewan and has its own troubles with the time.
The entire city, regardless of which side of the border it falls on, currently observes the time change, therefore putting it in sync with the rest of Alberta.
Saskatchewan does not change its clocks; it’s on Central Standard Time year-round, meaning it’s in sync with Alberta during the summer and one hour ahead in the winter.
If all that isn’t confusing enough, only those Lloydminster residents living on the Alberta side get to vote in the referendum.
“It’s a little challenging for our city,” said Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers. “It’s something we have lived with for a long time. Would I love to see it go away? I certainly would.”
Aalbers said the city has to deal with two provincial governments which can often lead to mix-ups when it comes to scheduling meetings.
“Is it Central Standard Time or is it Mountain Standard Time or Daylight Saving Time? It gets a little confusing,” said Aalbers. “We’ve had points where people show up an hour late for a meeting or an hour early.”
Ryan Turner, president of Lloydminster-based Renown Downhole Solutions, which provides specialty equipment for oil wells, is also in favour of dropping the time change.
“I like having the extra hour of daylight in the afternoon myself, and anytime that the guys can be working in the daylight is safer than working in the nighttime,” he said. “It’s definitely better that way.”
Turner said the current system also results in confusion in his industry.
“Sometimes you have to call a customer back and confirm, ‘Sorry, were you operating on Saskatchewan time or Alberta time?’ ” he explained. “About 50 per cent of our Saskatchewan customers still operate on Alberta time, which throws that secondary curveball into it.”
Mayor Aalbers hopes his Alberta residents share his opinion and vote to scrap the time change. Whatever the outcome, he’d like to see the issue put to bed, whether it’s an hour earlier or not.
“No matter what we choose, I hope we set it and we determine it,” he said. “The people of Alberta have an opportunity to vote and settle this hopefully, and send some clear direction to the government.”