The Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) strongly supports Bill S-229, An Act respecting underground infrastructure safety, introduced by Senator Grant Mitchell, which entered Second Reading debate on October 4, 2016. This legislation will reduce the costs and increase safety associated with damages to our underground infrastructure by addressing the need for a mandated comprehensive call/click-before-you-dig notification system across Canada.
The members of the CCGA, which include the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), as well as other industry associations representing excavators, locators, road builders, telecommunications, railroad, water, landscapers, construction, engineering and design, encourage all Senators and Parliamentarians to support Bill S-229 and for the federal government to mandate a comprehensive notification system for locate requests before digging.
There is a system of underground infrastructure that delivers and transports the services that support us in our daily lives, including energy, television, telecommunications, water and sewage. As Senator Mitchell stated in the Senate “It’s a web of wires, pipes, fibre optics and oil and gas pipelines that are at the root of our quality of life and our standard of living.”
This legislation is in response to a report published by the Senate Committee on the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources in December 2014 that recommended all jurisdictions mandate the use of this type of notification system. While currently there are Call/Click Before you Dig systems in Canada, there is no legislation, except in Ontario, to require its use. Bill S-229 would ensure the system is comprehensive and effective for underground infrastructure on federal lands.
There is a significant amount of cost and damages from people who hit underground infrastructure when they are digging, whether it is from major construction projects or homeowners digging in their yard. In 2015, there were more than 10,000 voluntary reports of damage to underground infrastructure in Canada, of which 79 per cent caused a disruption to services.
According to a report conducted by CIRANO, an organization based in Quebec, entitled Socio-Economic Cost Assessment for Damages to Underground Infrastructures, there are more than the obvious direct costs, including the cost of the materials, labour costs and administrative costs related to the damages. There are also indirect costs related to the damage, including intervention of emergency services, evacuations, loss of products, environmental impact, economic impact on businesses and risk of injury or death.
While Bill S-229 covers underground infrastructure that is federally regulated or on federal lands, it is a positive step in the right direction. As Senator Mitchell stated, “this federal initiative can contribute to momentum for a national system. It is an opportunity for positive, collaborative national leadership.”
The CCGA’s vision is to be Canada's unified damage prevention voice and attract members from all Canadian national organizations and associations who share common damage prevention and public safety solutions.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Common Ground Alliance (c/o Alberta One-Call)