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One call before you dig

Buried wires, gas lines and water pipes are all potentially costly hazards that homeowners or contractors could hit when doing construction work.

Luckily, people now only need to call one number to find out where these hazards are before they dig.

The city recently joined the ON1Call locate service, a provincially legislated service that connects with underground infrastructure owners, including telecommunications companies, natural gas providers and municipalities.

“Now that we’re registered with ON1Call, homeowners and contractors only have to make one call for municipal infrastructure locates and for all other buried infrastructure,” the city’s general manager of water services, Peter Busatto, said in a news release.

“We’re pleased with the convenience and safety this service will provide to our residents and businesses, as well as the reduced risk of damage to infrastructure we all rely on,” he said.

Some examples of activities where people might need to use the service include post-hole digging for decks and fences, pool installations, installing new driveways or walkways, tree planting, digging new gardens and installing light standards.

In general, the city doesn’t run into many incidents where people who’ve failed to call before they dig end up hitting something, Busatto said. “I think the reason why we don’t have more issues is our stuff is pretty deep,” he said.

People who are digging in an area where there are city water pipes buried beneath the ground are also probably aware of the danger and the need to call, he said.

Previously, people would have needed to make a separate call to the city, but now they have a simplified option.

Homeowners and contractors can request locates either online at or by phone at 1-800-400-2255. The service provider then distributes the locate requests to various underground infrastructure owners. The 24-hour service is free to homeowners and contractors.

Beginning in January 2015, the city will be paying $1.60 for each locate request. The cost will not be passed on directly to the service users.

“All utilities try to provide this service for free because we want people to use it,” said Busatto.

The city does between 5,000 and 7,000 locates annually, and it’s already costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver the service.

The added charge is not a significant increase for the city, Busatto said.

But repairing damage infrastructure can be costly, and generally if someone hasn’t called before digging the cost for repairs fall to that person.

The ON1Call service was legislated by the province out of concerns for both the security of buried infrastructure and for the safety of people who are sometimes fatally injured due to accidents while digging, the release said.

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