A woman and man walk on the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on Monday, July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman and man walk on the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on Monday, July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Yukon heralds time zone shift as Canadians ready to move clocks

Yukon stopped changing its clocks in November

WHITEHORSE — As other provinces and territories get ready to roll their clocks forward this weekend, the government official behind Yukon’s move away from the seasonal time shift says it’s been a relatively smooth process.

When Yukon stopped changing its clocks in November, the territory rearranged flight schedules and worked with technology companies that are responsible for things like the clock in a vehicle that runs on a global positioning system.

The territory uses Yukon standard time after previously aligning with Pacific time. The territory will line up with Pacific daylight time again when the clocks change on Sunday.

Government analyst Andrew Smith worked with a range of companies and organizations to implement the change.

“Changing time zones, changing these systems, is not something that’s done a lot in North America. We’ve proven it can be done.” he said in an interview.

Yukon was the first jurisdiction on the continent in the last 25 years to ditch the time change, Smith added.

There were some small hiccups, largely in the first week of the change last fall, but otherwise it’s been a smooth process, he said.

“It’s small little things, like the GPS controlled clock inside your new-ish vehicle,” he said. “Hindsight’s 20/20 of course but we didn’t even think of GPS systems and how radio controls that.”

Flight schedules posed a challenge, Smith said, with the government having to go through the central authority responsible for worldwide flight schedules. Doing so helped with communicating the changes to Air Canada and Air North, he added.

Other small issues arose with satellite televisions and international software companies. For example, some calendars would show the wrong time when arranging a virtual meeting with someone in Alberta, Smith said. But those problems were largely fixed in the days after most of the country moved their clocks back in November.

The feedback, by and large, has been positive, Smith said, adding that the extra hour of sunlight has proven particularly popular during Yukon’s winter months.

But the time change has affected those outside the territory, particularly in communities along the B.C.-Yukon boundary.

Andie Neekan, who works at the Mountain Shack restaurant in the small northern community of Atlin, B.C., said she didn’t adjust her clocks when the territory shifted away from the same time zone as the province.

“It was funny and weird at the beginning. For the first couple of weeks, everybody was talking about it,” she said. “But everybody got used to it.”

She said Yukon’s decision affected about 700 residents in the small B.C. community, where the time change meant juggling differences with the territory, where many go for doctor’s appointments, shop for groceries and fill prescriptions.

It’s led to people keeping two different times. At home, people follow B.C. time on their clocks, but they are on Yukon standard time when out running errands, Neekan said.

She said she’s waiting for B.C. and the western states along the Pacific Ocean to get on the same page as Yukon.

“I think the whole West Coast should adjust,” she said. “I thought that was the plan.”

British Columbia’s government has said it plans to get rid of the time change, but not until its trading partners in states like Washington and Oregon do so as well.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2021.

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