April 5, 2018
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyFor the third year in a row, the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) built an exhibit at Canada Blooms. Sponsored by Ontario One Call, the display was well-positioned within the feature gardens built by other landscape contractors. The purpose of the exhibit was to remind the public that the law requires them to call ON1Call for locates before digging to plant trees or shrubs on their property. Our goal is to educate the public as well as landscape and fence contractors on this important issue. Canada Blooms allows us to reach both audiences at the same time. The public has to realize that under their front, side or backyard lawn, there may be any variety of utility line, wire or pipe and that it could be live. Striking such a live wire or line can not only cause damage to the utility line, it could also cause loss of life or permanent injury.

Facts and statistics

This was the 22nd annual Canada Blooms. The 10-day festival at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, features the National Home Show and Canada Blooms which attracts close to 200,000 visitors. While you will find many home renovators and interior home products in the National Home Show, it also provides an opportunity for garden lovers to see the latest trends, designs and newest plants just before spring. It features retail garden centres who have many spring products on display for purchase. There are more than 100 seminars in the 10 days and most are one-hour in length. Speakers such as Mark and Ben Cullen, Denis Flanagan, Frankie Flowers, Sean James and many other industry experts lead these free seminars.

The volume of business from horticulture in Canada is approximately $15 billion annually with 50 per cent of that coming from Ontario. The industry employs more than 100,000 people in Canada, in various sectors such as landscaping, garden centres, nurseries, irrigation contractors, lawn care firms and garden maintenance companies, golf courses and municipalities. It is estimated that there are more than 12,000 firms in Ontario and the total number of utility strikes annually are over 5,000 incidences. All these businesses will create 17 per cent of the total utility strikes in Ontario while the public will do another 13 per cent. This is the reason why the ORCGA is at Canada Blooms. Where else can you reach almost 200,000 members of the public in just 10 days? The social economic cost of underground damages across Canada is estimated to be close to $1 billion annually. These costs are usually buried in your utility bills and we all pay.

The law

Five years ago, the ORCGA lobbied Queen’s Park to have Bill 8 read in the Ontario legislature. It was passed and as a result, all companies or individuals must first call ON1CALL for locates before they break the soil. We understand the public may not know the law, but I am very surprised so many contractors do not first call for locates. Over 90 per cent of industry utility strikes are due to the fact that companies do not call for locates. Everybody, without exception, MUST call for locates before they dig. It is a free service and the locate markings are generally on the ground within five days of the initial call.

Coverage at Canada Blooms

The ORCGA team that staffed the booth at Blooms consisted of Doug Lapp, Jennifer Parent and Kim Sheppard. They are all dedicated professionals who manage the damage prevention office in Vaughan. Great job folks! I was to spend time in the display on a Saturday and over 100 people inquired about locates and the underground damage prevention business. People seemed very interested in the free service for obtaining locates.


It was very beneficial to our mandate to participate in Canada Blooms again this year. On behalf of the damage prevention industry, I would like to thank the following people for making our display such a success: Sean James, ORCGA exhibit designer and coordinator; Charlie Wilson and Jim Mcliesh from Bruce Wilson Landscaping; David Turnbull, Canada Blooms coordinator; Terry Caddo, Canada Blooms General Manager, and the ORCGA staff.

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