January 15, 2018
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyI was recently involved with a problem a landscaper had with respect to getting timely locates. On the evening of November 17, 2017, I was advised that a Landscape Ontario member was having problems getting locates from a particular locator. Once we get past the busy spring start-up season, things tend to run more smoothly, so I had not heard about any issues for about four or five months.

The contractor was tasked with planting 450 trees in a municipal subdivision and his crews were held up because the locates had not been done. Since it was late November, the job had to be finished before the snow fell and the ground froze. The contractor needed the locates done for the early morning of November 20. With an exchange of emails between ON1CALL, the locator, contractor and myself, we managed to find a solution where the locator would meet the contractor on the jobsite first thing that morning and the problem was under control.

The whole scenario took me back to 2012 and the great negotiation started by the vision of Jim Douglas of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA). Jim had the brilliant idea of Bill 8, the Ontario One Call Act. Later named the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification Act, Bill 8 was sponsored by two opposition MPPs and went on to become law in 2014. The Act is Jim’s real legacy and a testament to his initial vision. The Act paved the way for improving the entire system of locate requests and improved the process for getting timely and accurate locates for the excavating community.

Bill 8 was an inclusive document that brought all the infrastructure owners together under one roof, and under the supervision of ON1CALL, whereby the infrastructure owners (generally a municipality or utility) had to register their firm, give documentation on the infrastructure details and also give mapping details, so everyone had access to the location of their respective lines, pipes, etc. This allowed ON1CALL to advise contractors and locate providers exactly where to paint markings to give contractors credible data on the locate ticket and the ability to trust the markings on the ground. In addition, it became law for all infrastructure owners to join the ON1CALL system. Legislation also stated that all locate markings had to be on the ground within five working days of the initial locate request. Otherwise, ON1CALL had the authority and the power to investigate and determine the problem and subject the locate provider to a fine if necessary. If an excavator has trouble getting proper locates in time, a proper procedure exists in order to resolve the problem.

The problem solution process

If locates are not completed within the five-day standard time allotted, the contractor should call the locate provider noted on the ticket to find out why and when the locates will be done. Most locate providers are happy to revise their schedule to accommodate the request and work with the contractor to get the locates done in a timely manner. If it is beyond five days and you do not get an acceptable revised schedule from your locate provider, please contact Steve Waugh at ON1CALL. It is Steve’s job to investigate the issue and help you to get what you require on an acceptable schedule. This is legislated in Bill 8, and you have the law behind you when dealing with the locate provider and ON1CALL. From my personal experience, the process in place actually works.


There may be very valid reasons why locate marking are not in place within the required five day period. If they are not, approach the locator provider and/or ON1CALL politely and have all your paperwork handy to answer any questions they may have. You will find that in most cases, the system will find a way to accommodate your requirements and everyone will work together to help solve your problem. If you still have difficulties, I am also here as your last resort to help find a solution to your problem. Your friends at the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance can also assist you with any underground issues or problem. Members of the ORCGA can call 1-866-446-4493 for assistance.

Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.