Proposed legislation for underground infrastructure registration moves ahead

February 09, 2018
February 9, 2018 - A private member’s bill that would require utility owners to register federally regulated underground infrastructure to prevent damage and risk on construction sites will soon be tabled in the House of Commons.

The Canadian Common Ground Alliance supports the bill — Bill S-229 was recently approved in the Senate — and is encouraging members to contact their federal Member of Parliament to ask her or him to vote for the proposed legislation.

The CCGA has launched a website, where you can easily click to ‘sign’ a prepared letter of support and directly email it to your MP.

The CCGA has been working with its members, including the Manitoba Common Ground Alliance, and industry associations on the Underground Infrastructure Safety Enhancement Act, Bill S-229.

This legislation is intended to increase safety and reduce the cost associated with damages to underground infrastructure by mandating a comprehensive call/click-before-you-dig notification system across Canada.

Bill S-229 will build on and enforce the “click before you dig” principle. It would require:

• Operators of underground infrastructure that is federally regulated or on federal land to register the infrastructure with a notification centre;
• People who are planning to dig to first make a locate request with the relevant notification centre; and
• Operators of underground infrastructure to respond to locate requests by locating or marking the ground, or providing a clear description of the location of the underground infrastructure near the proposed excavation, or providing an all-clear to proceed with excavation.

The proposed legislation responds to a 2014 Senate committee report that recommended all jurisdictions mandate the use of this type of notification system.

While there are Call/Click Before You Dig systems in Canada, only Ontario has legislation requiring its use. Bill S-229 would establish a comprehensive system covering underground infrastructure on federal lands.

When digging occurs without determining the existence of underground infrastructure, through a ‘One-Call’ Notification Centre, for example, there is a significant and unnecessary risk to public safety, worker safety and the environment. Direct and indirect costs attributed to damaged underground infrastructure amount to as much as $1 billion yearly.

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