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Spring is in the air. A joint reminder to dig with care.
Apr 6, 2022
Vancouver, B.C. - April 6, 2022 – April is Safe Digging Month in British Columbia (B.C.) and occurs near the start of the digging season as an important reminder to engage in safe digging practices when excavating. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc. (collectively, FortisBC) and BC 1 Call are teaming up once again to remind British Columbians to contact BC 1 Call before digging. Gathering information on the location of underground infrastructure reduces the risk of personal injury, avoids interrupting essential services and prevents costly repairs. BC 1 Call is a free service.
In 2021, extreme weather events and the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the resiliency of British Columbians. It was during this time that drinking water, internet, air conditioning and heat – just to mention some of the essential services our government, utility and telecommunication members provide thanks to underground infrastructure – had never felt more crucial.
As always, BC 1 Call and its members safeguarded the services our communities and businesses depend on. The excavating community did their part in using BC 1 Call more than ever, not only for planned work situations, but also in emergencies like during and while recovering from the devastating November floods.
“After such a year, it merits taking a moment to recognize the vital ongoing contributions of B.C.’s safe digging community,” stated BC 1 Call chair, Daren Sanders. “BC 1 Call is proud to operate as a not-for-profit asset for the province. Together, the safe digging community is helping to protect, maintain and build out private and public sector capabilities for B.C. communities and businesses.”
By the end of 2021, BC 1 Call’s over 89,000 registered users (up 44 per cent from 2020) placed more than 241,000 locate requests (up 14 per cent from 2020), including a record number of emergency requests (over 10,000).
“Even with these great achievements, more remains to be done to drive consistent use of BC 1 Call by excavators (both professionals and homeowners), and to persuade infrastructure owners of the value of membership,” said Chris Hyland, president & CEO of BC 1 Call.
“In 2021, FortisBC noted 1,034 instances of British Columbians damaging underground natural gas lines, and approximately 60 per cent of damages were from those who did not contact BC 1 Call before digging,” shared Ian Turnbull, damage prevention and emergency services manager with FortisBC. “The safety of our customers and employees is a top priority for FortisBC, so please help us, and yourselves, by reaching out to BC 1 Call first.”
Anyone can request a free locate request ticket at their convenience online 24/7 at bc1c.ca or via phone during regular business hours at 1-800-474-6886. BC 1 Call will respond to requests within three business days, with instructions on how to avoid hitting buried facilities.
BC 1 Call’s board of directors is comprised of representatives from FortisBC, Trans Mountain, BC Hydro, TELUS, Enbridge and the Public Works Association of British Columbia. BC 1 Call’s 351 members are all safety-minded public and private sector owners or operators of underground infrastructure. Together, members make this service free of charge for all users.
BC 1 Call
- A locate request to BC 1 Call must be completed a minimum of three business days before the work begins, to allow members enough time to provide the necessary information to homeowners and contractors.
- Both BC 1 Call’s service and the information sent by members are 100 per cent free of charge.
- When someone requests a locate ticket by clicking or calling BC 1 Call, it triggers a notification to the utility owners to share drawings and information on what’s below the surface in the described dig area, and how to safely avoid hitting infrastructure.
- Excavators are not clear to dig until all utilities they are told to expect to hear from have responded.
- From inception through to December 31, 2021, BC 1 Call has registered about 40,000 individual homeowners who use its locate service.
Underground Infrastructure & Damage Incidents
- According to the 2020 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report, 49 per cent of all reported damage incidents in B.C. that year involved a failure to request a locate ticket with BC 1 Call. This percentage was calculated based on the total number of reported damages in B.C. and the number of damages caused by a notification issue. The data tables can be found on page 24 of the report.
- Common home improvement projects that may cause damage to underground infrastructure:
- Installing posts for fences, mailboxes, realtor signs, welcome signs, etc.
- Building decks, retaining walls, patios, and installing fire pits
- Tree planting and digging a garden
- Anchoring playground equipment
- Installing in-driveway heating systems
- Underground infrastructure includes: pipes and cables used to transport oil and gas (natural gas or propane), water and sewage, electricity, and telecommunication services across BC; all of which are integral to daily living.
- It is important to follow the requirements of the infrastructure owners when working in proximity to their facilities. Due to groundwork, landscaping, and potential erosion since time of installation the depth of facilities can’t be guaranteed.
Safe Digging Month
- On April 1, 2022, the Provincial Government declared April Safe Digging Month.
Since 1994, BC 1 Call has been the link between the excavating community and its members, who are owners or operators of underground infrastructure. By contacting BC 1 Call before they break ground, private landowners and commercial excavators reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage. BC 1 Call has over 350 members across British Columbia including municipalities, communication service providers, gas and pipeline companies and irrigation and improvement districts. BC 1 Call is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Use of BC 1 Call is a safe digging best practice, with a role in regulatory frameworks or communications of the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the National Energy Board, Technical Safety BC and WorkSafe BC.About FortisBC
FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. do business as FortisBC, a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, renewable gas, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs approximately 2,550 British Columbians and serves over 1.2 million customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC owns and operates two liquefied natural gas storage facilities and four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,335 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines, and approximately 50,182 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC is indirectly, wholly owned by Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. use the FortisBC name and logo under license from Fortis Inc. For further information on FortisBC, visit fortisbc.com. For further information on Fortis Inc., visit fortisinc.com.