March 15, 2018
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyOver 250 delegates gathered at Blue Mountain Resorts in Collingwood, Ont., Feb. 7-9 to participate in the annual Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) Symposium. My report this month will highlight some of the damage prevention areas covered during this event. There were some excellent seminar subjects, great food and some very special networking sessions. A special thanks to the ORCGA staff: Doug Lapp, Jennifer Parent, Kim Sheppard and Keith Begley for their outstanding efforts that made the event a huge success.

Hall of Fame members

Each year the ORCGA looks for an individual who has made “exceptional and outstanding” contributions over the years to the damage prevention industry and to the ORCGA organization. This tradition has been going on for a decade or so. The ORCGA Hall of Fame was rebranded the Jim Douglas Award this year. This prestigious award, now named after the former ORGCA president and CEO was bestowed upon two members this year: Tom Kidd from Hydro One and Barry Shoppoff from Union Gas. Jim Douglas was available at the Awards Luncheon to present this year’s awards.

Douglas is a legend in the industry and I had the pleasure of dining with him and his wife Unis on the Wednesday evening at the event. Jim started the organization from scratch, established the board of directors, led the charge on getting Bill 8 approved, and much more.

Members of the year

This award is presented to an individual whose dedication and service to the ORCGA and industry went above and beyond the call of duty. Two members, Karen Santucci, Utilities Kingston; Ontario South east Geographic Council, and Kathryn Karn, City of Greater Sudbury, Ontario North East Geographic Council, were honoured with the award for 2017.

Best Practices Committee

This committee reviews all the suggestions and new recommendations to improve our best practices in damage prevention. There were 45 new items that have either been reviewed or still need to be finalized. This is an ongoing challenge. There are discussions underway as to whether Ontario should maintain their own best practices manual or partner on a national version.

Reporting and Evaluation Committee

This group is responsible for all the statistical reporting and for the Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT Report) publication. This report gives the Damages and Underground Hits information by each of the Geographic Council Areas. There are estimates for the socio-economic costs of underground damages at $1 billion per year in Canada. (New estimating report called CIRANO). The DIRT Report should be published and available by April, 2018.

Events and Education Committee

This committee reviews the Symposium feedback and plans for next year’s events. They plan and finalize major functions such as the Locate Rodeo and the ORCGA Golf Tournament. A large part of the planning is the subjects and speakers for the concurrent seminar series for the thee-day Symposium.

Geographic Councils Committee

This committee consists of chairs and co-chairs from the 13 Geographic Councils. They plan speakers for the various council meetings and set objectives for each year. Membership increase is always a hot topic for council meetings. There was a major increase in all Geographic Council attendance during the 2017 year, with the average attendance at 40 members. This is excellent. Congratulations to the chairs and co-chairs and to Jennifer Parent for a job well done.

Federal Bill S229

Just as the ORCGA in Ontario promoted and lobbied Bill 8, the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Act, at the Provincial Legislature, there is a Bill before the House of Commons in Ottawa for a National Bill modelled after Ontario’s Bill 8. It is in the early stages where MPs are being introduced to the concept of Locates and Damage Prevention of the Underground Utility Assets. This will be an important project for the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) in 2018.


The ORCGA will continue efforts to increase membership numbers in 2018. Currently, the ORCGA has 524 members. If you would like to learn more about the organization and the benefits and value of being a member, call 1-866-446-4493 or email A small contractor can join for $125 per year. Most members save this amount annually by using the services made available to them as a member. It may be very worthwhile to make that telephone call to see if a membership fits your company. Belonging to Landscape Ontario and the ORCGA shows the professionalism of your firm and this alone can position you for more business in 2018. Most other contractors will not belong to these two organizations.

Canada Blooms

The ORCGA will build an exhibit at Canada Blooms this year highlighting “Dig Safe” and to call ON1CALL for locates before digging. The display will demonstrate the various underground utilities that are present in most residential properties and show the public why it is so important for them to call for locates before planting a tree or digging post holes for a fence, etc. Educating the public on the free service, the requirement by law in Ontario to obtain locates and to pay close attention to the underground infrastructure will also be key messages at the event.

Terry Murphy can be reached at