Fortis BC calling on residents to call before they dig

Fortis BC
By Fortis BC
April 15th, 2024

Nearly 70 per cent of damages to underground gas lines in 2023 belong to ground disturbers without a BC 1 Call ticket

With April being Safe Digging Month, FortisBC Energy Inc. (FortisBC) and BC 1 Call are teaming up to ask residents and contractors to click or call BC 1 Call before they dig, excavate or disturb the ground in any way as they begin their spring garden work. Knowing the location of underground gas lines reduces the risk of personal injury, avoids interrupting essential services and prevents costly repairs.

In 2023, FortisBC saw 844 instances of damage to underground gas lines. Nearly 70 per cent of the incidents were the result of work performed without contacting BC 1 Call prior to digging. Of the other 30 per cent, most did not appropriately use the information provided or did not dig by hand first.

Of the 2023 recorded damage incidents, the region with the highest percentage of line strikes is Metro Vancouver at 327 (38.7 per cent), followed by Thompson Okanagan at 183 (21.6 per cent) and Vancouver Island at 132 (15.6 per cent). For individual municipalities, the City of Surrey reported 64 damages (7.5 per cent) in 2023, making it the city with the highest number of incidents, followed by the City of Vancouver with 58 (6.8 per cent), Kelowna with 41 (4.8 per cent), Burnaby with 38 (4.5 per cent) and North Vancouver with 33 (3.9 per cent).

“It is very promising to see our damage incidents decreasing by about 10 per cent year over year since 2020,” said Tanya Kowalenko, program manager, public safety, FortisBC. “We commend British Columbians for all the work being done to educate and mandate safe digging practices. However, even one incident is one too many. Approximately 90 per cent of damages to our gas lines are preventable by following safe excavation practices―starting with a free call to BC 1 Call.”

BC 1 Call is a free and convenient service offered to the general public and contractors. A quick click or call to request a locate ticket is all that it takes to have BC 1 Call notify those of its 363 utility owning members whose assets lie within the dig site. This can be done by either visiting the BC 1 Call website or calling 1-800-474-6886. BC 1 Call members will get back to you within three business days with instructions on how to avoid damaging underground infrastructure. It is critical requesters follow the safe digging instructions sent to them. Armed with this information, along with other safe digging practices, individuals can collectively reduce the risk of injury, avoid the interruption of essential services and prevent costly repairs.

As warmer weather approaches, landscaping, gardening and renovation projects are soon to be in full swing, increasing the risk of more incidents of damage to underground infrastructure. Causing damage to a gas line is possible even from basic gardening activities such as planting fruit trees or perennials. That said, nearly 75 per cent of damages to gas lines across the province are caused by contractors. Those contractors who dig with equipment or machinery are required to first dig by hand in order to expose any buried utility lines.

In 2023, BC 1 Call received more than 229,000 locate ticket requests, with 83 per cent of these requests coming via its online platform. Contractors lead the pack with 66 per cent of the locate tickets placed, followed by member employees at 25 per cent and homeowners at nine per cent. BC 1 Call also saw the largest increase in registered users, at 17 per cent, which works out to 1,666 new users every month.

“Though the number of registered BC 1 Call users continues to climb each year, there are many contractors, landscapers and homeowners who still aren’t aware of safe digging practices, which is why we are continuing to see damage,” said Chris Hyland, president and CEO of BC 1 Call. “As April is Safe Digging Month in B.C., we are encouraging all British Columbians to learn how to dig safely before disturbing the ground, confirm their landscapers and outdoor DIY project contractors will be using BC 1 Call and spread the word about safe digging.”

FortisBC and BC 1 Call urge all contractors to implement safe digging practices into their routines and educate their workers on the importance and convenience of BC 1 Call’s free online platform. For more information on safe digging practices, visit fortisbc.com/digsafe. To request a locate ticket, or learn more about BC 1 Call, visit bc1c.ca.

Categories: General