12/01/2011

On November 24th, 2011, the Member for Sarnia-Lambton, Bob Bailey re-introduced his Private Members Bill, the Ontario One Call Act
The legislation makes it mandatory for Ontarians to contact a call centre to request locations of underground infrastructure such as gas lines, television cables and electrical wires before digging. If passed, municipalities operating any underground infrastructure such as sewers or drinking water distribution pipes would be required to join Ontario One Call.

The Bill, which was incorporated into the Progressive Conservative Party’s election platform, designates Ontario One Call as the monopoly call centre responsible for handling locate requests and requires all owners of underground infrastructure such as cable companies, electricity distributors, natural gas suppliers and municipalities to join the organization.

Ontario One Call contacts the locate provider for the infrastructure owner or the owner themselves upon receiving a call from a contractor or the public. Locates must be dispatched within a specified time to ensure minimal delays to work. To cover costs, Ontario One Call charges a fee to members for calls received.

Ontario One Call seeks to reduce the duplication for contractors and residents who must now contact each infrastructure owner to request a locate. Municipalities currently offer these services to contractors and residents, frequently integrated with building and water departments. The Bill would replace the first response to calls currently fielded by municipal staff, however the responsibility for providing locates will still reside with the infrastructure owner.

By creating a mandatory call centre, the Ontario One Call Act will impact the municipal sector, however, specific impacts may vary from municipality to municipality depending on the type and extent of underground infrastructure. If made mandatory, Ontario would be the first province in Canada with a province-wide mandatory one call system.

AMO will continue to monitor this Bill and report to membership as information becomes available.