Big News on 1-Call
After many years and a lot of work by quite a number of people, Ontario now officially has a true 1-Call system. On June 19, Bill 8, the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act received Royal Assent. Essentially, this Act creates a legal framework whereby all underground utilities must be members of Ontario 1-Call and employ their systems as a mechanism to provide utility locates. Although many utilities are members already, many are not; thereby creating confusion and extra work for stakeholders who are seeking to determine the location of utilities prior to undertaking an excavation, such as borehole drilling. This act will require all municipalities, gas pipeline and electrical infrastructure operators and any other owners of utilities that cross public rights of way to be members of 1-Call. There is a one to two year phase-in period for non members to join 1-Call. In addition, the act sets out responsibilities for those undertaking excavation work to have locates completed before they initiating the work.
A few key areas of the Act are highlighted below:6 (2) The member shall make all reasonable attempts to do the things required by subsection (1) within five business days of the day the member receives notification about the proposed excavation or dig, unless there is a reasonable expectation that the excavation or dig will not start within 30 business days of the day the member receives the notification.
This sets out a 5 day timeline for locates, but leaves an out clause by indicating “reasonable attempts”. It will be interesting to see how the phrase “reasonable attempts” is interpreted when one does not obtain their locates when they need them.7 (2) No excavator shall commence an excavation or dig unless, (a) it has contacted the Corporation to request locates for all underground infrastructure that may be affected by the excavation or dig; (b) each member that owns or operates underground infrastructure that may be affected by an excavation or dig has properly provided locates for its affected underground infrastructure or has stated in writing that none of its underground infrastructure will be affected by the excavation or dig; and (c) if locates are properly provided, the excavator has ensured that the locate markings on the ground do not conflict with the written information provided respecting the underground infrastructure.
As outlined above, not only is a person now obligated by law to contact 1-Call, but also to ensure there is a locate for each utility and ensure that the paint marks or flags do not conflict with the paperwork (a common problem).
There are also provisions for the establishment of regulations under the Act for such items as timelines, fines, membership, among others. This Act further supports our company policies of not drilling without proper and complete locates, as it implements another regulatory regime for the requirement for locates. This is in addition to the current requirements set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the TSSA Act, and the Electricity Act.
This Act does not affect private utilities belonging to the property owners, and in no way changes the requirements to have them located by a private locator prior to initiating a drilling program.
Links to some further information: