Once upon a time, not that long ago, there was a heated debate in Saskatchewan regarding daylight saving time (DST).
I remember, at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association’s (SUMA) annual convention in 2001, there was a resolution passed as to whether the province should join the rest of the country, and follow DST from early April to late October.
(I’ll stay out of the debate on whether DST comes into effect at this time of year, or if it actually is in effect during the fall and winter months).
Anyways, SUMA members in 2001 thought DST was a pretty good idea. Advocates wondered how hard is it for us to change our clocks twice a year. Move the clock forward in the spring, and move it back in the fall. Simple, right?
Granted, there were those on farms who argued against it, because they are often starting chores early in the day, and they like working in the early daylight during the summer months.
And if you’ve ever been in Consul on the first day of summer, you can understand why some in southwest Saskatchewan are opposed to the concept. (I’ve been in Consul three days before the first day of summer. I liked having daylight just before 10 p.m. But I might not be too eager to have daylight at 11 p.m.).
Anyways, the SUMA resolution never went anywhere. Saskatchewan continued to thumb its nose at DST. There was a call for a plebiscite on the issue, but nothing materialized.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country continued to observe DST.
The only time Saskatchewan people really noticed the difference was when everyone else changed their clocks, and we had to adjust our television viewing patterns accordingly. Hockey Night in Canada would start at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.
(As a diehard Vancouver Canucks fan in the early 21st century, it was easier to stay awake to watch my beloved team play once DST was in effect. As a diehard Canucks fans in 2019, I long to have a two-hour difference between Vancouver and Saskatchewan, because it gives me an excuse to skip out on Canucks games).
Anyways, a funny thing has happened to DST in the last few years. There is growing opposition to the concept.
I think it started in 2007. Prior to that year, the time change was in effect from early April to late October. So you had DST for a little more than half of the year. Then, in 2007, we started switching our clocks forward in early March, and moving them back in early November.
People wondered why it was necessary. Some started grumbling.
Maybe it’s because once the clocks change in early March, we’re suddenly looking at a sunrise that occurs after 8 a.m.
At least when DST kicked in during April, we’d have sunrise at 7:30 a.m.
Some U.S. states are talking about dropping DST, including Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. North of the 49th parallel, Manitoba is making noise about ending the practice.
The best news for DST proponents? U.S. president Donald Trump has suggested leaving the clocks alone throughout the year. If Trump’s opposed to changing clocks, then maybe it’s not all bad.
There’s part of me that still wants to see Saskatchewan change its clocks. Sunset at 9:30 p.m. in late July sounds better than sunset at 8:30 p.m. Sure, we’d be two hours apart from B.C. throughout the year, but it’s not like the Canucks are worth watching now anyways.
An extra hour of daylight would be great for sporting events (at least those that can’t afford expensive light standards), tourism attractions, festivals, barbecues, patios and a host of other events. Most of us don’t need daylight at 4:30 a.m., but we’d love to have daylight at 9:30 p.m.
It would be bad news for fireworks. And the farmers wouldn’t be happy. And, of course, the great people in Consul wouldn’t be happy.
(If I was a farmer near Consul trying to have a fireworks displayed, I’d definitely be fuming at the thought of DST).
But there’s one reason why Saskatchewan must maintain the status quo: the ninth hole at the Gateway Cities Golf Club at Portal/North Portal.
If you’re a golfer in southeast Saskatchewan, you likely know about the ninth hole at Portal. A short par 3, you hit your tee shot in Saskatchewan, and hopefully the ball will soar above the Canada-U.S. border, and land on the green in North Dakota one hour later.
It’s so cool that the ninth hole at Portal has found its way into Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
If Saskatchewan changes its clocks, or if North Dakota abandons the practice, then the ninth hole at Portal loses some of its charm. It’s still a cool hole, because it’s an international hole.
(The last time I was out there, my dad’s tee shot cleared Customs. Mine did not).
But it wouldn’t be the one-hour golf shot.
So think of the Gateway Cities Golf Club the next time you think we should be observing DST.