These Infrastructure Owner-related materials will help you learn more about safe digging in Ontario and any questions you might have about the public utility locate process.
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Paint, stakes or flags are some of the various methods buried infrastructure owners field locate where they have underground pipes, wires, or cables. Each type of infrastructure has a unique colour associated with it.
Temporary Survey Markings
Remember to dig safely. Follow instructions given by each infrastructure owner. Do not begin a dig until you have confirmed all notified utilities have responded to your locate request.
An emergency locate request is a loss of service by a utility that is considered essential, and in the absence of the Utility service, can reasonably be expected to result in: imminent or significant safety or environmental hazards, or imminent threat to a person or to the public. Once a request is determined to be an emergency, the infrastructure owners notified must by on site or provide a clearance within 2 hours.
A Priority Locate is a request that does not qualify as an emergency, but without an adequate Locate, the impact on people or businesses would cause significant hardship if not addressed promptly. Priority Locate request have a courtesy completion deadline. Infrastructure owners are notified within 24 hours, and are asked to attempt to complete their locate prior to the work to begin date. Infrastructure owners are not required to complete the locate before 5 business days.
Remediate the issue identified in the Complaint within 5 Calendar Days and immediately notify Ontario One Call in writing about the remediation;
Or, if the Infrastructure Owner or Excavator disputes a Complaint, they must provide their response to the Complaint in writing to Ontario One Call within 5 Calendar Days of receiving the Complaint from Ontario One Call explaining their reasons for disputing the Complaint.
All notified infrastructure owners must respond to your locate request before you are allowed to dig. Infrastructure Owners are required to complete their locates within 5 business days. While the law mandates these deadlines, there is no guarantee a locate will be provided in 5 business days. If an Infrastructure Owner is late, please follow up with them first by using the contact information they provided on the locate confirmation. You can find the contact information within the locate status once you log into the web portal. This how-to-video shows how to find your locate request and the locate status – https://youtu.be/Yv5SpFgoL50.
If the response received from an Infrastructure Owner or locate service provider is unsatisfactory, you can file complaint against the Infrastructure Owner – complaint form.
For Emergency locate requests, the infrastructure owners’ crews have to be on site within 2 hours from the request. Planning and design requests are voluntary, and infrastructure owners who utilize this service do not have a legislated timeframe in which to respond.
There is basic, mandatory information Ontario One Call needs to complete your locate request:
1. Your name
2. Your phone number
3. Your email address (kept in a confidential database used only by Ontario One Call affiliates for locate request purposes)
4. The location of the dig site, including City, Address, Dig Street, and the two nearest minor intersecting streets to the property where you are excavating. Please note that our system will provide you with the nearest intersecting street we have available, all that is required is your verification.
5. Type of work occurring on the property
Please clear cookies and cache before requesting a locate to avoid mapping errors.
Additional information that is good to have and may expedite your locates includes:
1. Whether you’re excavating at the front, back, or side of the property and if you are digging near any property lines (i.e. if you are on public property or private property)
2. Whether your property is a corner lot or not
3. What side of the road your property is on (N,S,E,W)
4. Whether you will be digging by hand (shovel, pick or spade), or machine
5. If your type of work is a fence, whether the fence is being placed past the front corners of the house
6. If your type of work is a pool, whether a fence is being installed at the same time
7. Any special information you would normally give to someone visiting your house (ex. if you have a dog in the backyard)
Please review your request to ensure there are no errors or omissions. Errors or omissions may be corrected by contacting us at 1-800-400-2255. It is your responsibility to ensure that your request is accurate.
The first page of your locate request will be the request confirmation:
A: Request Confirmation. Use this number when obtaining a locate status from Ontario One Call’s 360 Feedback, calling Ontario One Call to inquire about your locate request or calling an Ontario One Call Member about your locate request.
B: Contact Information. Please review to ensure accuracy. This is the information the owners of buried infrastructure will use to contact you.
C: Dig Location. Please review to ensure accuracy. This is the address that will receive the locate. Please be as specific as possible with Dig Location. Ontario One Call prefers that, if possible, you situate your dig site between the two nearest intersecting streets. These would be the two streets that are to your immediate left and right when standing in front of your property.
D: Dig Information. This section tells Ontario One Call what type of work you are doing on the property and where you are doing it. Please be as specific as possible.
E: Members Notified. This section tells you who Ontario One Call notified of your intent to excavate. Review this section thoroughly and ensure that any other infrastructure Owners not mentioned in this section are contacted by you directly.
If there is a “C” beside the Member name, that owner of buried infrastructure has issued you a clearance for your work, meaning you are safe to commence your excavation as far as that Member is concerned (remember there are other owners of buried infrastructure on your request).
The second page of your request confirmation consists of disclaimers and information that is important to note. It is your responsibility to ensure that your request information is accurate. Please review this information thoroughly and contact 1-800-400-2255 if you have any questions.
Ontario One Call does not complete or schedule physical locates. We transmit your dig information to buried infrastructure owners or the Locate Service Providers (LSP) they authorize.
Once the locate request leaves our office, it becomes the responsibility of these parties. We have no “pull” with infrastructure owners or locators to expedite locates. If you cannot resolve your issue with the infrastructure owner or LSP directly and wish to file a complaint, please reach out to our compliance department via our complaint form.
The locate validity period is determined by the infrastructure owner. Locates are valid for at least 60 days from the day you receive your locate, but could be longer. The infrastructure owner will clearly identify the length and conditions of the validity period for the locate request. Please check the locate sheet sent to you from the infrastructure owner or their LSP.
A Suspended Locate Request is when the Ontario One Call system detects something that might be incorrect on a locate request. A suspended locate request will be reviewed by an Ontario One Call agent prior to being released. Once reviewed, the person who submitted the locate will either receive a clarification email to get more information or a confirmation that the locate request will be processed.
These documents have been put together to help Infrastructure Owners use the Ontario One Call system more effectively, and stay complaint with the Act.
How to Stay Compliant
- Renegotiation – How to
- Change in information after a locate was completed
- Notice of Locate Delay
- Understanding Locate Statuses and How to Update 360 Feedback
- Finding Open Requests in 360 Feedback
Compliance – Financial Recourse
Alternative Locate Agreement – for contractors and underground infrastructure owners
Buried infrastructure owners wishing to opt out of notification from a certain excavator for specific types of work/method of digging may wish to set up special arrangements with the excavator through an Alternate Locate Agreement or Suppression.
An Alternate Locate Agreement (ALA) advises the excavator that a traditional field locate from the Ontario One Call member is not required. This could be for work that is deemed low-risk to the member’s infrastructure (i.e. hand digging tree roots, vacuum excavation, etc.). When the excavator contacts Ontario One Call using a special Contractor ID, the member in question does not receive the locate request instead the notification system will advise the excavator that traditional field locates will not be completed under their ALA.
An ALA has to be pre-arranged with an owner of buried infrastructure (Member). The member will contact Ontario One Call to request a Contractor ID to be associated with an ALA.
Private buried infrastructure (including buried infrastructure beyond a utility demarcation point) on private property is the responsibility of the property owner to have marked.
Examples could include:
- Gas line that goes from a house to a BBQ or pool heater
- Lights or signs on the property
- Electrical lines going out to sheds or a detached garage
- Sewer and septic tanks, systems and piping
- Security cameras
This image shows some examples of properties with public infrastructure shown in solid lines and private infrastructure shown in dashed lines.
To get your private lines marked, a competent private locator must be hired.
Homeowners can still place locates by phone, but contractors need to place their locate request online through our web portal. Click here to request a locate. Locate requests made online are more accurate, and help save time for those providing the locates. For any questions or assistance, please contact our Contractors Support line at 800-400-2255. Please note that our Customer Service Specialists will be happy to answer your questions but won’t be able to place a locate request for you.
Requesting a locate through Ontario One Call is free.
That depends on who is doing the excavation. If you are doing it, you are responsible for getting a locate first. If you are hiring someone to complete the excavation for you (landscaper, fence company, deck builder, etc.) they should get the locate. The person physically completing the excavation is responsible for obtaining locates, regardless of whose property the excavation is occurring on.
However, keep in mind that if you are hiring someone, even if you are not legally responsible for getting the locate, you should make sure they get one before starting any work.
Ontario One Call connects the owners of buried infrastructure with the people who want to dig across Ontario. Contact Ontario One Call, and when Ontario One Call receives a request to dig, we record the details and provide those details to the owners of infrastructure in that area. We call the act of providing them those details “Notification.”
The owners of buried infrastructure will receive the notification from Ontario One Call and respond back to the person requesting the locate. You can review the owners of buried infrastructure notified by checking the bottom of your request. Additionally, with your request number, you can view the status of your locates through our web portal.
You must wait until all the notified owners of buried infrastructure have responded before beginning your work.
Please note that Ontario One Call reserves the right to refuse locate requests if the information is insufficient, conflicting, or confusing.
The locates are completed by the owners of the buried infrastructure or their respective Locate Service Providers. Ontario One Call does not perform locates.
When Ontario One Call receives a request to dig, we record the details and provide those details to owners of infrastructure in that area. We call the act of providing them those details “Notification.”
The owners of buried infrastructure will receive the notification from Ontario One Call and respond back to the person requesting the locate. You can review the owners of buried infrastructure notified by checking the bottom of your request. Additionally, with your request number, you can view the status of your locates through our 360 Feedback program.
You must wait until all the notified owners of buried infrastructure have responded before beginning your work.
Once notified, the owner of the buried infrastructure responds back to the person who requested to dig in one of two ways: a clear or a “completed” locate
A clear is when an owner of the buried infrastructure reports that your dig activity has low to no conflict with their infrastructure. This clear may be based on any information you provide to Ontario One Call, so ensure you do not stray outside the plans you’ve provided. There must be paperwork that comes with this “Clear.”
A “completed” locate is when an owner of the buried infrastructure marks on the ground where their infrastructure is located and provides paperwork backing up their markings. In addition, this paperwork will have instructions on how to dig around the marked infrastructure. For example, “Dig by Hand within 1 meter of the markings.”
Sometimes this response is instantaneous, if not, infrastructre owners need to complete their locates or clearances in field.
You must wait until all owners of buried infrastructure notified have responded with the appropriate paperwork and either a clear or a “completed” locate.
Current legislation does not require the participation of First Nations, the Province of Ontario or the Government of Canada to register all their infrastructure, but all other infrastructure that crosses onto a public right of way is required to register with Ontario One Call.
Any privately owned infrastructure will not be notified by Ontario One Call. For example, you may have a gas line that goes from your gas meter to your pool or barbecue, or you may have an electrical line that goes from your house to your garage or you may be on a septic system or well. This would not be covered under an Ontario One Call Request to dig. You may need to contact and hire someone to find these pipes and cables for you. Learn more about private locates.