September 20, 2012
Quebec underground utilities legislation called for
Quebec needs legislation to improve protection of its underground infrastructures, argues the Alliance pour la protection des infrastructures souterraines du Québec (APISQ).
“In 2011, more than five damages per day were done to natural gas or electrical ducts, creating the disruption of essential services which translated into millions of dollars of direct and indirect costs. Now is the time for the Quebec government to legislate,” said Nathalie Moreau, APISQ general director.
The APISQ welcomed the adoption of Bill 8 at the Ontario Legislature this summer, which implements a mandatory information system on underground utilities.
From now on, every owner of Ontario’s underground infrastructures, including municipalities, must provide the location of their buried infrastructures to a One Call Centre.
In order to locate underground infrastructures, all excavation companies must also contact the One Call Centre before beginning excavation work.
This is the first such legislation in Canada, though it is common practice in 50 American states.
Proponents for the legislation argue the system reduces construction delays and will improve public and worker safety.
Data collected by the APISQ in 2011 shows that there was almost 1,300 incidents of damage done to Quebec’s underground infrastructures. Damages such as smashed gas or water ducts, severed electrical wires, service interruptions and traffic jams are costly, but could be avoided says the APISQ.
“In most cases, the person in charge of the excavation did not make a locate request to Info-Excavation, a free service offered in Quebec for over 20 years”, states Nathalie Moreau.
“In the past few years, Ontario has had many deaths and injuries related to excavation work. Fortunately, Quebec has been lucky in this regard as no serious injury has occurred, but we must act now before it is too late”, she added.
Info-Excavation is a non-profit organization that offers a one-stop service that provides information on the location and nature of underground infrastructure owned by its members.
APISQ expects a steep increase in excavation sites throughout Quebec as municipalities, public work companies and the ministry of transportation have thousands of worksites on Quebec’s roads, bridges, streets, waterworks and sewage systems.
The newspaper La Presse has reported that 621 excavation sites will be launched by the city of Montreal alone.
Damages to underground infrastructures will certainly increase if the Quebec government does not update its legislation and bylaws, as was the case in Ontario, says the APISQ.
To overcome the legislative delays, the APISQ plans to continue its representation towards government authorities.
DCN NEWS SERVICES
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