OSWCA Update on the Ontario One Call
Published on: 02/10/2015
As you are aware, sewer and watermain contractors are continuing to deal with significant delays in receiving timely locates across the province. The five-day turn-around required by the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, 2012 is being ignored in many regions, as there is no incentive (i.e. fines) for utility companies to provide locates within the prescribed period. OSWCA has been addressing this issue on a number of fronts and are starting to see incremental progress. In order to keep up this momentum, we must continue to create the necessary paper trail to prove how serious the problem is for our industry. Included below is a step-by-step process for how to lodge a formal complaint for a late locate. This process is critical to help maintain political and institutional pressure to remedy this problem.
Additionally, contractors in a number of regions across the province have been receiving the attached (or similar) notice from Bell indicating that locates are now valid for the life of an excavation project, but with the caveats that contractors are required to “protect and preserve” the painted lines, and any relocates or remarks that are requested will come at the contractor’s expense. OSWCA has obtained a legal opinion on the validity of this order, and has included a recommended course of action below.
Process for Lodging Formal Complaints
In order to appropriately reflect the scope of the problem that is being created as a result of late locates, OSWCA recommends that contractors lodge formal complaints with Ontario One Call each time their locates are late being delivered. In discussions with One Call, the following process has been recommended:
• Day 5 – Contact locate service provider (LSP) to inquire when the requested locate will be delivered.
• Day 6 – Contact utility companies who have not met the required five-day limit to notify them that the locate request is now overdue.
• Day 7 – lodge formal complaint with Ontario One Call (via attached template).
Following this process, particularly the lodging of a formal complaint via email to Ontario One Call is critically important. It creates a very necessary paper trail to demonstrate to One Call and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services that there is a legitimate problem with the system. Without a formal complaint being lodged, late locates go unaccounted for.
Attached to this Bulletin is a document titled Formal Complaint Email Template. This is meant to assist you in lodging a formal complaint with all of the necessary information required.
Bell Notice on Locate Validity and Charging Contractors for Remarks/Relocates
OSWCA has been investigating this issue and have received a legal opinion on the validity of the notice. Below is a brief excerpt of the conclusions reached in this review:
Based on our review of the Act, its regulations, and the By-Laws governing the Ontario One Call Corporation, we are of the view that the legislative scheme clearly intends that the owners of underground infrastructure – such as telecommunications companies – are solely responsible for ensuring the accuracy and adequacy of the infrastructure locates they provide to excavators. Accordingly, they are not permitted to pass either the responsibility for maintaining the physical integrity of locates, or the cost of providing locates – whether original locates or “refreshing” or “remarking” locates – on to excavators.
To do so would be inconsistent with both the scheme of the Act and with the Ontario government’s intention to create a create a system that would be completely free for excavators, as well as the general public, in order to increase safety by increasing compliance with the “call before you dig” mantra of the One Call Corporation.
Based on this opinion, OSWCA unequivocally opposes Bell’s practice of requiring excavators to “protect and preserve” paint marks for the life of their contract, and with their practice of charging excavators for any remarks or refreshes. OSWCA is committed to resolving this issue with all parties involved, but in the intervening period any invoicing received or paid for this service should be retained in case of future changes to this policy.
Attached to this Bulletin is a form letter titled Form Letter: Response to Bell Charging for Remarks & Refreshes. This is meant to assist you in responding to receipt of the Bell notification on charging for remarks and relocates. Similar to the lodging of formal complaints for late locates as outlined above, sending in a response to Bell and Ontario One Call on this issue is important to substantiate the problems that this issue is creating.
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