March 15, 2017
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyLandscape Ontario’s Congress ’17 was an outstanding success. LO Executive Director Tony DiGiovanni described it to me as “the best Congress ever.” In recently speaking with the folks at the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA), they described their 2017 Symposium as an equally tremendous success. Each event is a celebration of respective associations and while each has similar content, their focus is different. LO Congress is a trade show with seminars, while the ORCGA Symposium is a conference with seminars and a small trade show. Each has similar goals of socializing and networking.

This year’s Symposium was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ont. with the theme of damage prevention and further promotion of the “Dig Safe” brand. Day one featured working sessions where members of key committees got together to plan the direction for 2017. For example, the Best Practises Committee reviewed submissions for changes to technical or operational improvements. Approvals and recommendations are then submitted to the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) for further approval across the regions and are then included in the next edition of the Best Practices manual. The Education and Events Committee will decide on the location for next year’s Symposium, an appropriate theme and what content should be included in the agenda to support the chosen theme. The Reporting and Evaluation Committee would review the Damage Information and Reporting Tool (DIRT Report) for value and content for each of the 13 Geographic Councils and debate new suggestions. The 13 Geographic Councils meet as an important committee to see how they will conduct their public relations events for the Dig Safe spring events. Dig Safe events with key municipalities are planned and approved. Registration is open all day and a buffet dinner is held in the evening.

Day two content consisted of speakers and specific seminars. ORCGA president Ian Munro gave his annual address, followed by chairman of the board, Kevin Bowers, who outlined where the ORCGA is headed this year. Ben Hamilton from ON1CALL brought everyone up-to-date on the new ON1CALL centre located on Hwy. 6 in Guelph. Ben discussed the new process in requesting locates and the streamlined system. Keynote speaker, Darwin Durries gave an interesting account of the Fort McMurray fire last summer and his efforts in getting the water supply back on in the city.

After these special speakers, the audience of 275 industry professionals had the opportunity to attend a one hour seminar of their choice among three topics. The next presentation was the DIRT Report statistics — a 45-minute summary outlining the industry data from 2016 that allowed industry firms to gage their success or failure in achieving improvements in utility hits.

After lunch, the three morning seminars were repeated and participants were able to choice the topic of interest to them. Next it was rest and relaxation time. Attendees had the choice of a mystery event, a wine tour or curling. All three were very well attended. During this time the trade show was also open and 40 exhibitors displayed their goods and services. Day two concluded with an awards ceremony and a banquet dinner.

Day three started with breakfast, followed by a motivational speaker. The exhibitor hall was open for an hour and a passport system was in effect. Attendees had their passport stamped at each booth they visited and completed passports qualified them for a chance to win a prize at the luncheon later that day. The last two hours of the morning had three more industry seminars, including a presentation by MTO; an update on the Kitchener LRT project, and more. All were well attended.

The luncheon concluded the day with prize draws and closing remarks by Ian Munro.

All reports indicate it was another successful Symposium this year. Congratulations to the ORCGA team of Ian Munro, Jennifer Parent, Keith Begley and Kim Shepard for a job well done.

For more information on upcoming Dig Safe events and contractor membership benefits, contact Jennifer Parent, at 1-866-446-4493 or email
Terry Murphy may be reached at with any comments, suggestions, or questions.