This memorial sundial to honour William Willett is in Petts Wood

Time to count the sunny hours

Daylight time begins at 2 a.m. this Sunday, March 12.

There’s been debate about the pros and cons of daylight time all the way back to when it was first thought of more than 100 years ago.

Currently, Alberta NDP MLA for Edmonton-Southwest Thomas Dang is tallying up the results of an online survey asking Albertans if they want to keep it or scrap it.

He cites the reasons as daylight time having negative effects as cited by egg farmers and families with children, who say it throws off their established routines.

Daylight time began early in the 20th century in England, when prominent Edwardian builder William Willett, a keen supporter of outdoor activities, noticed that during the summer, people were still sleeping when the sun had risen.

A successful businessman, Willett was able to sponsor his ideas and began to investigate how changing the nation’s clocks at different times of the year would create more usable daylight.

Willett published “A Waste of Daylight” in 1907 and in it suggested advancing time in four phases throughout the year.

Although his ideas caught the interest of British MPs such as Robert Pearce and Winston Churchill, the overly technical way in which he suggested the change put off many people.

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 put a huge strain on the British national economy and the government began to look at ways to increase productivity.

This led to the 1916 adoption of British Summer Time, which the government believed would improve output in factories and reduce the amount of coal used for lighting.

Unfortunately, Willett had passed away only a year before and never saw his ideas come into practice.

Meanwhile back in Alberta, if the results of the survey prove to support his idea, Dang wants to have a bill drafted by mid-March.

If the bill is passed, then the next decision would be whether to keep Alberta on Mountain Time all year round or to be on Central Time all year round, which would put it on the same time as Saskatchewan.

with files from nationaltrust.org.uk and timeanddate.com

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