February 15, 2016
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyOver the holidays, I had an opportunity to interview Ian Munro, President and CEO of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORGCA). Below are some of the questions I asked Ian and his responses. Hopefully this will give the landscape and fencing industries a better understanding of the damage prevention industry in Ontario.  

Q. What were the key reasons you considered when you accepted your position with the ORCGA?
A. Having been actively involved in the industry and a volunteer with the ORCGA for several years, enhancing the safety of Ontario and then being asked to consider this position was a plan come full circle. I was looking for a position that I could affect the most amount of positive influence on, and I believe this position does that.

Also, the damage prevention industry is one that I’m most experienced and interested in; as a former utility owner representative, locator/dispatcher, excavator and most recently safety professional on major infrastructure projects in Ontario with education accomplishments in Civil and Electrical Engineering Technology, plus Ontario Business Management.

Relationships with the many members, sponsors and stakeholders in our industry prove they are in it for the same safety and damage prevention reasons, as well.

I believe the damage prevention industry is growing in public safety importance and it’s a pleasure to help lead Ontario to be the safest jurisdiction with the most reliable infrastructure in North America.  

Q. What do you think are the major challenges that exist in the industry today?
A. Membership growth and stakeholder compliance in all stakeholder categories. Reduction in damages overall, and in particular as a result of insufficient excavating practices and excavators not calling before they dig.

Q. Were any noteworthy accomplishments achieved by the ORCGA in 2015?
A. Yes. After several years of discussion and planning, the ORCGA office has recently moved to the GTA where a majority of our membership and damage prevention growth opportunities exists. Membership growth in 2015 is greater than at any time in the previous 12 years, to more than 500 members in total.

Q. What are the goals that the ORCGA would like to accomplish in 2016?
A. Grow membership by at least 100 members and retain and grow sponsorship opportunities. The life blood of any non-profit group is new members.

Q. What are you doing to increase the membership in the ORCGA?
A. Enhancing membership services, geographic councils and developing tangible reasons to join the ORCGA for different stakeholders and continue to show value to existing members.

Q. What are the other provinces doing to spread the damage prevention message?
A. The Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA), which we are an integral part of, now includes members from all the western provinces, Quebec and Atlantic provinces to promote damage prevention.

The CCGA are using our Ontario-developed best practices and committee processes and resources as their base to build their alliances and spread the damage prevention message.

Also, other provinces are lobbying governments to enhance damage prevention throughout Canada.

Q. Do you think the current system of obtaining locates and preventing utility damages is effective, and if not, what would you do to change it?
A. I believe it is effective (the right thing to do). However, it is not as efficient as it could be. This is an opportunity to be improved upon.  

Q. What advice would you give to an excavating contractor as we enter 2016?
A. Become an active member of the ORCGA and Dig Safe which includes:
  • Call before you dig
  • Respect the marks
  • Wait for locates
  • Dig with care
My thanks to Ian Munro for taking time to answer my questions. Our hope is that all excavating contractors are now more knowledgeable about the underground damage prevention industry in Ontario. 
Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.