21 April 2016
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, hidden from public view and spanning our country are extensive networks of buried electrical, telecommunication and Internet cables, distribution and transmission pipelines, and water mains and sewer lines.
This infrastructure delivers the services Canadians literally cannot live without: heating, electricity, water, communication, data, Internet and emergency services.
Every year, thousands of buried facilities are needlessly damaged by excavations that occur without first determining the location of underground infrastructure in the vicinity of the digging projects. When damage occurs, services are interrupted, and incidents can lead to injury, death and significant environmental contamination. These incidents also present an economic burden on society.
They put emergency service resources in danger and can result in evacuations, property damage, road work and construction project delays, congestion, loss of data, and disruptions to emergency services and financial institutions.
In Alberta alone, there were more than 2,500 incidents of underground infrastructure damage in 2015. Not only did they cost Alberta taxpayers more than $300 million, but they were also avoidable.
April is Dig Safe Month across Canada. The April Dig Safe Month campaign reminds homeowners and contractors to "Click or Call Before You Dig."
The damage-prevention process is initiated by a locate request to a notification centre. Responsible underground infrastructure owners and operators are notified of the excavation project prior to digging, enabling them to locate and mark their buried plant and ensure the project is carried out safely.
These services are always free and available by visiting clickbeforeyoudig.com or by calling your provincial one-call centre directly through their toll-free number.
I will soon introduce a bill to protect underground infrastructure. It will require all federally regulated underground infrastructure to be registered with a provincial one-call notification system. It will provide certainty to the digging community that all federally regulated underground infrastructure operators will respond to notifications of planned ground disturbances in the vicinity of their buried plant in a timely fashion.
I would like to recognize Michael Sullivan, Executive Director of Canadian Common Ground Alliance, and his colleagues who are here today. Michael Sullivan has been instrumental in helping to develop this legislation, and I thank him.
I encourage Canadians always to visit clickbeforeyoudig.com before beginning any project that requires digging, no matter the size or scale of excavation. Dig safely.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Please click here to read this speech in French / Veuillez appuyer ici pour lire ce discours en français