We recently sat down with Daren Sanders to talk about his role as Board Chair, the evolution of BC 1 Call, and plans for moving forward. 

Fun Fact: BC Hydro has been a BC 1 Call member and shareholder since 2006. Daren has been BC Hydro’s representative on the Board since 2016, and the Board Chair since 2018.

Daren openly shared his perspective on BC 1 Call, and described how the organization is working to deliver value for all stakeholders.

A Bit About Daren 

Q: Please describe your role at BC Hydro.

A: I am the Director of the Contact Centre & Billing Operations department within BC Hydro’s customer service organization. The core of my team’s work is managing the day-to-day interactions with our customers through our contact centres and online transactional processes, as well as issuing bills and collecting payments. My team is also responsible for managing specialty programs, such as net metering, and provides customer experience expertise to other areas of the company.

BC 1 Call’s Core Purpose 

Q: Why should British Columbians care that BC 1 Call exists? 

A: BC 1 Call protects our communities by preventing underground infrastructure damage that could cause injuries or disrupt critical services we all rely on, such as drinking water, internet, electricity, heat and other services.

Q: BC 1 Call has been in operation since 1994 and has always operated as a non-profit organization. Can you tell us why?

A: BC 1 Call provides a free public service that is funded by our members, who include utilities, pipeline owners and local government. It’s in the interest of all British Columbians that we offer this service, make it affordable to members, and ensure all of our revenues are directed to the services we provide.

Q: Has BC 1 Call’s role or purpose changed over the years?

A: BC 1 Call’s core role has always been to make it easy for professional excavators and homeowners to identify underground infrastructure before they start digging, and to do this by linking them to our members who advise where and how it is safe to dig to avoid striking their buried infrastructure. What has changed is the level of effort applied to safe digging advocacy and awareness campaigns. 

Q: What values does BC 1 Call embrace to achieve successful collaboration and engagement with various stakeholders?

A: Above all, we value the health and safety of the communities we service. To achieve this, we value the sharing of knowledge around damage prevention, being reliable and easy to do business with, and building relationships with all stakeholders, including infrastructure owners, contractors, government and Indigenous communities. 

Q: How has BC 1 Call evolved over your time as Board Chair? 

A: We’ve been very busy at BC 1 Call! A number of significant changes have been implemented due to the focus of the Board and hard work of staff:

  • From a governance perspective, the board has put structures and processes in place to ensure our long term financial sustainability, as well as to play a more strategic role in advancing BC 1 Call’s vision. 
  • From an operational perspective, we forged a collaborative relationship with the other Western provinces to secure world-class ticketing software, and migrated to a B.C.-centric contact centre service employing outstanding B.C.- based agents dedicated entirely to serving the BC 1 Call community.
  • Marketing and communications have also been stepped up considerably. Our 2019 rebranding and website redevelopment was the foundation for higher frequency and better quality communications through all contemporary channels. In addition, to provide transparency and accountability to members and partners, we now publish a very comprehensive annual report. 

Daren summarized the progress this way: 

  • “Overall, we’re a more structured organization with defined roles, enabling a strong culture and focus on delivering value to our members and stakeholders. I’m particularly proud of how, in adding capacity to our management team and working closely with our key vendors, we’ve increased the value of the one-call service for our members, while also raising awareness and use of our service to record levels.”

Did you know: In 1996 BC 1 Call’s fee for general members was $6.00/billable notification. Due to system efficiencies and growing numbers of users and members, 2022 fees are $2.50/notification.

Q: What’s Ahead for BC 1 Call? 

A: In the summer of 2022, BC 1 Call Board and staff worked up a new strategic plan, which we will be sharing with key stakeholders for feedback prior to finalizing. At this point, our new draft vision is “To protect people, the environment and underground infrastructure to keep BC safe.” Our mission continues the traditional role of BC 1 Call being the link between infrastructure owners and the excavating community, but allows for an expansion of the ways in which BC 1 Call supports British Columbians in preventing damage and injury.

When speaking about the future of BC 1 Call, Daren noted three strategic priorities that will help drive us forward: Organizational Sustainability; Increased Stakeholder Engagement; and Optimized Service Delivery.

“Sustainability and value are critical, and at the root of all three priorities. Organizational Sustainability focuses on our people and the effective governance of BC 1 Call, as well as on doing our part to help meet governmental net-zero 2050 commitments,” Daren explained. “Increased Stakeholder Engagement calls for highly impactful marketing and education programs, as well as building truly collaborative relationships and effective advocacy related to damage prevention. Optimized Service Delivery focuses us on delivering ever-better functionality and service levels to meet the needs of our members and users.”

In his wrap up, Daren stated that the Board and staff look forward to finalizing and then advancing the new strategic plan, noting that, “as always, we’ll be sure to share and report on BC 1 Call’s unfolding objectives and progress.”