August 15, 2012
Bill 8 officially becomes law
Celebrating the passage of Bill 8 at Queen’s Park, June 14, are from left MPP Bob Bailey, co-sponsor of Bill 8, ORCGA board of directors member Terry Murphy, who represents the landscape industry, and LO, MPP Paul Miller, co-sponsor of Bill 8, and ORCGA president Jim Douglas.
By Terry Murphy CLP

Terry MurphyAs most of you should know, Bill 8, the Ontario One Call Act, now known as The Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification Act, 2012, became law after being passed in the Ontario Legislature on June 14. It is expected that it will be in effect within the next 12 months.

After several years of preparation and planning for a more complete and efficient system of obtaining locates and preventing underground infrastructure damages, Bill 8 should produce those results. This Bill is only one of seven pieces of legislation that have successfully passed through the Ontario legislature since last October. This is a great accomplishment for those associated with the underground industry. Who do we thank for this major step forward?

First of all let’s thank MPP Bob Bailey, Sarnia – Lambton  (PC) for sponsoring Bill 8 and introducing it to the legislature, along with his co-sponsor, Paul Miller, MPP from Hamilton East – Stoney Creek (NDP). Without the effort from these two MPPs, it may not have happened.

We also thank Jim Douglas, president of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA), for his unwavering dedication and support to this project.

We thank the board of directors of the ORCGA for support in attending sessions in the Legislature and behind the scenes lobbying and promotion.

We thank all the members of the ORCGA for their work and support and to members such as Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario, who wrote letters of support to the government committees.

We thank the Joe Accardi, Ontario Sewer and Water Main Construction Association and Sussex Consultants for their supporting publicity. We also thank all the members of the Ontario Legislature for their unanimous vote of confidence for Bill 8. I’m sure that there are many others who should be singled out, because it was truly a group effort.

What does this new law mean? What will it accomplish? After the regulations for the new one call system have been completed by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services over the next 12 months, contractors will only need to make one call to Ontario One Call. Within five days, all the appropriate locates will be marked on site. There will be no need for contractors to make as many as 13 calls to infrastructure companies to ensure that all locates have been ordered.

It means that all the companies and groups associated with the underground construction must be part of this new mandatory system. This system is efficiently and effectively working in 50 States in the United States and has proven to be cost effective and saving lives. This is an excellent, productive, efficient Bill that will prove very beneficial to all people working and living in Ontario

Personally, I believe that this Bill went through the Ontario Legislature in record time because there were virtually no major hurdles or negative aspects to the Bill. Committee sessions were more about information sharing and education, as opposed to serious objection and prolonged debate. In addition, this Bill has zero costs to the citizens of Ontario and is funded through industry.

The burden of locates for contractors will be greatly reduced for all who use the system. One call takes care of everything. It means that businesses can plan for and begin their construction projects in a more timely and efficient manner and not be held up by lack of locates, which has happened far too often in the past.

In 2010, there were almost 3,200 natural gas line hits in Ontario. There were over 12,000 third party strikes in the underground infrastructure in Ontario. Why? Because the voluntary system is inefficient and in many cases doesn’t work! We needed a better system to ensure worker safety and to protect the estimated $100-billion in underground infrastructure assets in Ontario. This mandatory system will produce improved results. Research shows that when an excavator contacts a one call centre before digging starts, damages are less than one per cent. With such a one call system in place, results in the U.S. have shown a decrease of 70 per cent in damage costs to the underground infrastructure.

As indicated by Jim Douglas and supported  by MPPs Bob Bailey and Paul Miller, “ORCGA is encouraged by the passage of this long-awaited legislation and we are eager to start working with the Ontario Government and other stakeholders on establishing regulations and insuring the system will be as efficient as possible.”

A job well done by everybody! Congratulations to everyone who worked on this project.
Terry Murphy can be reached at