January 15, 2012
Ontario One Call Act
At the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park on Dec. 2, the Ontario One Call Act, or Bill 8, received all party support on second reading.
It will now be sent to committee for an in-depth review and discussion before it is presented for debate and the third and final reading. This is expected to take place in the spring of 2012.
I was in attendance to listen to and support the presentation by the two MPPs, Bob Bailey, Sarnia-Lambton, and Paul Miller, Hamilton East, who co-sponsored Bill 8. It was reassuring to even see Liberal MPPs speak in favour of the Bill. One key Liberal supporter, Donna Cransfield, Etobicoke East, not only supported the proposed legislation, but reminded her colleagues of the seven people who were killed in a gas explosion in 2003 in her riding due to lack of locates.
She indicated that if this Bill was in place at that time, these people would still be alive. She reinforced her commitment to the Bill by naming the seven members of her riding who needlessly lost their lives.
Earlier this year, the same Bill, then under the same name, Ontario One Call Act, but known as Bill 180, also passed the second reading, only to be cancelled when Premier Dalton McGuinty called a provincial election. Any legislation before the house is automatically cancelled when an election is called.
This means we had to start from day one and reintroduce the Bill in the new session. This Bill affects all of us in the landscape industry. It requires that all municipalities, utility firms, locate companies and other companies who have utility infrastructure in the ground be part of the One Call process.
Once the legislation is adopted, all the above-noted companies will be required to register and assist Ontario One Call with providing locates. To determine a locate will require only a telephone call to Ontario One Call.
Presently, before digging commences, some landscape and excavation companies need to make as many as 13 calls to ensure that all underground wires, pipes, cables, gas mains, etc., are located. This is a major endeavour by the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance to unite the industry to support efforts to create an efficient, cost effective and simple system. We need all Landscape Ontario members to write their local MPP and request that he or she support this legislation, and to end this totally inefficient system.
This legislation will save lives, make workers safe and provide an effective cost-efficient process to provide locates for all who live and work in Ontario. In the U.S., all 50 states have One Call systems. Why not Ontario?
Estimates in New York State show that damage costs were reduced by 70 per cent in the first year of the new One Call system. There are no downsides to this legislation. It benefits all politicians and the public. Let’s do our part by letting our provincial MPPs know that we support this legislation. This is a bi-partisan, non-political issue that should be a major gain for our province. There are no reasons to not pass Bill 8.
Terry Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.