January 7, 2019
A review of 2018 activities
The annual Damage Prevention Symposium includes training, education and social events.
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphySince another year has passed, I thought I would take the opportunity to summarize the operations of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) for 2018. It has turned out to be a good year for the ORCGA.

ORCGA membership

The ORCGA membership decreased from 515 to 505 this year. Smaller excavating contractors can join for $125 annually. This works out to only $2.40 per week or 34 cents per day. Considering corporate taxes, because membership fees are a business expense, the actual cost is $100 annually (or $1.92 per week or 27 cents per day). For the benefits members receive, this is a great bargain.

Geographic Councils

The ORCGA’s 13 Geographic Councils increased their winter meeting attendance 156 per cent over the past year. There are normally five Geographic Council meetings per year, and all but one council showed improvement in attendance. This shows great interest and support for the ORCGA on a local level.

Three-day winter symposium

The ORCGA’s three-day winter conference, held at Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood, Ont., had 230 industry people in attendance. The 2017 event had an attendance figure of 225. In 2019, the symposium will be held Feb. 13-15 at the Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont. The symposium is very similar in purpose to Landscape Ontario’s Congress, in that it gathers the major players of the industry and includes a trade show, world-class speakers, social events and awards.

Major advertising efforts

The ORCGA continues to advertise the “Dig Safe” and “Call Before You Dig” messaging to both contractors and home/property owners in an effort to reduce the number of hits and damage to infrastructure that exists below ground. In 2017, we participated in a number of events, including: ORCGA Damage Prevention Symposium (230 attendees), Canada Blooms/National Home Show (200,000 visitors), ORCGA Golf Tournament (296 attendees), and Landscape Ontario Congress (13,500 visitors). In addition, articles with our messaging appear on a frequent basis in this publication, as well as other industry-specific publications. Lastly, we get the message out via special Dig Safe events held each spring by individuals, municipalities or towns, at the annual ORCGA Locate Rodeo, and through meetings of the 13 Geographic Councils and ORCGA Board of Directors meetings.

Damage prevention training

As you may or may not know, the ORCGA also offers specialized training in damage prevention. This offering trains locaters to be proficient in the art of making correct and prompt locates. In 2018, 140 industry professionals were trained, 74 received their certification and 150 locators had their certifications renewed. The training is led by ORCGA designated trainers, which provides a source of revenue for the organization.

Financial picture

The ORCGA continues to be self-supporting, with a budget of less than $1 million and annual results showing a small surplus each year. There is no financial support from the government. All revenue is generated through membership fees, certification training, events, and major sponsors. This positive financial picture is possible due to excellent cost control and a tight budget review on a continuing basis. The ORCGA has now been operating for 13 years.

Timely locates

While each busy spring season still poses a challenge for providing prompt and on-time locates within five days, I have generally noticed a continuous improvement over 2017. Fewer contractors are contacting me to complain about poor service for their locates. Of course, nobody is perfect, and I have been made aware of contractors who have experienced some isolated problems, however, most are resolved by following the process outlined by ON1CALL. Any contractor who has an issue with getting locates done on time can contact the locate provider on the ticket they are given to see if things can be expedited. If a problem still exists, please call Rob Matthews at ON1CALL at 519-265-8006, ext. 8820. Rob is the person who investigates locate problems and has the power to levy fines and penalties on locate providers who are not performing up to par.

ORCGA staff

The amazing work this year has been accomplished by a staff of only three people. They are: Doug Lapp, President and CEO; Jennifer Parent, membership and councils; and Kim Sheppard, administrative and accounting. Staff, along with the ORCGA Board of Directors and many volunteers should be proud of their efforts in managing and promoting the ORCGA in 2018. Great job!


This has been a very good year for the ORCGA and results have been accomplished by a team of dedicated and hard-working people. There are opportunities for all of us in 2019. Increasing our contractor memberships and our sponsorships are important goals for the ORCGA to achieve its budgeted results in 2019. Thank you for your support this year.
Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.