November 15, 2014
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyOntario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) and its member partners will focus on two important areas at Congress 2015 in January.

Utility firms will give free Alternative Locate Agreements (ALA) to any excavating contractor. The second focus will be ORCGA memberships.

ORCGA member firms having booths at Congress 2015 this year include Bell Telephone, Enbridge gas, Union Gas, Rogers Communications, Hydro One, TSSA, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Ont1Call,  Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Landscape Ontario and The Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance. All ORGCA member utility firms will have ALA paperwork available for you to sign up at Congress.

What is an ALA? Basically, it is an agreement between the utility and the excavator, whereby the excavator agrees that his company will not dig deeper than 11 inches on that particular site. If the company has an ALA with the utility, Ont1Call will give permission for the excavator to proceed immediately with digging without waiting for the actual markings to be placed on the ground. The excavator still requires an official call to Ont1Call and the contractor is still required to have the normal locate paperwork available on site.

The key advantage is that the excavator does not need to wait for the actual locates to be made on the ground by the official locate company, which sometimes can take an extended period of time in busy seasons. This avoids start-up delays and saves the excavating contractor money.

Who should obtain an ALA from a utility? Companies that are not digging more than 11 inches deep such as irrigation firms, landscape contractors who are planting annuals and perennials, or firms placing sod, etc. Any other digging deeper than 11 inches requires a call to Ont1Call and the required markings placed on site.

Once you have registered with the utility and secured your free ALA, it lasts forever without any renewal. It is a one-time sign up. The ALA saves you time and the utility money. It is a benefit to all concerned.   Every contractor in the horticultural business should make use of the ALA process.

Another important feature available at Congress will be the opportunity for all horticultural firms to sign-up as ORCGA members. Sign-up forms will be available at any of the above-mentioned exhibitors.

ORCGA promotes all Dig Safe practices. The organization also promotes the damage prevention message to educational institutions, industry firms and the public. ORCGA was responsible for the passage of Bill 8 in the Ontario Legislature, which will streamline the Ont1Call process with the goal of only one telephone call to secure all utility locates for the excavator. In addition, ORCGA’s goal is to have the actual locate markings on the ground within five days of your initial call.

Any time a utility is hit, it is a cost to all society. As taxpayers and utility users, we want to keep our utility bills at an absolute minimum. Members can also participate at one of the 13 ORCGA Geographic Councils, which meet regularly throughout the year in your area. These are great networking opportunities with other industry professionals.

You can also use your membership as a selling tool to promote to your customers. Many of your competitors will not have this advantage. An ORCGA membership for a small landscape firm is only $125 annually. I can list 13 major benefits and advantages available to ORCGA members.

Contact the ORCGA at for this list or for more information on membership benefits. The key opportunity here is critical mass and support of a very worthwhile industry partner. We are all interested in employee safety, damage prevention, saving lives and reducing costs. This is what your membership stands for! Consider signing up as an ORCGA member and join the current list of more than 450 firms who are on the roster.
Terry Murphy can be reached at