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Island police worry move to permanent daylight savings raises school safety issues

If pending move finalized, sun would not rise until after 9 a.m.
The pending introduction of permanent daylight savings time could impact the safety of children as they would be walking to school in the dark during large parts of winter. (Black Press Media file photo)

It hasn’t occurred yet, but Vancouver Island police are already asking drivers to be more cautious as the pending demise of the twice-annual time change will impact the safety of children.

RCMP Sgt. Andres Sanchez said the permanent introduction of daylight time means that children will go to school in the dark.

“People should be aware of that, and drivers should be aware of that,” he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, without the traditional daylight (time) shift, there are portions of the year where the sunrise isn’t until about 8:30 a.m.,” said Sanchez. “(It) raises the issue of kids walking to school in dark conditions. In fact, on some days, it would be much later.”

Under the current system, the sun would rise at 7:43 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2023, as an example. But if daylight savings were to be permanent, it would be an hour later, 8:43 a.m., around the first bell for local schools.

Later that month, sunrise would be just after 9 a.m.

RELATED: B.C. offers to work with U.S. states on daylight saving time

The provincial government has already signalled that it would follow the United States in introducing permanent daylight time following relevant legislation in 2019 in B.C.

A survey held in 2019 found British Columbia wanted to keep in step with neighbouring Yukon (which moved to permanent daylight time in March 2020), Washington, Oregon and California.

The United States Senate has passed permanent daylight time across the U.S. The bill still awaits approval from the president and the House of Representatives.

The office of B.C. Attorney General and Ministry responsible for Housing said in a statement that the province is committed to ensuring B.C.’s economy and businesses aren’t negatively impacted by a permanent shift to daylight time without identifying any specific measures regarding schools and traffic safety.

Potential solutions could involve shifting the start of school.

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