BC 1 Call recognizes Public Works Week (May 19-25) as a time to celebrate everyone who contributes to BC’s public infrastructure and services!  

“Public works can be broadly defined as all services essential to the welfare and acceptable quality of life for citizens,” notes Pat Miller, Acting Executive Director and Board Member of the Public Works Association of BC. “This includes everything from physical assets to personnel necessary for government to provide and sustain structures.” 

That’s why PWABC serves professionals in all aspects of public works. Membership is open to those working in municipal, regional districts, provincial and federal government agencies, as well as those in the private sector, who supply products and services to public works professionals.

BC 1 Call is tipping our hat to all dedicated individuals in both the public and private sectors— a great many of whom are committed members of the Safe Digging Community and of BC 1 Call. They include:

BC 1 Call members:

  • 116 local governments, representing 71% of the sector; 
  • 17 Regional Districts;
  • 41 Improvement & Water Districts;
  • 6 Education sector members, including School Districts and Universities;
  • Public Works and Procurement Services Canada; 
  • Canadian Forces Defence bases; and

BC 1 Call professional users, including public works employees and contractors.

BC Water and Waste Association is one of BC 1 Call’s valued education partners who reference BC 1 Call in their professional training courses.  “As an Association that supports over 4,300 water and wastewater professionals, including utility managers and operators, civil engineers and consultants and local government, BCWWA knows that BC 1 Call is the first call that water professionals make before breaking ground on any infrastructure project,” says Lee Coonfer, BCWWA CEO. “The recognition of Public Works Week every May is an opportunity for the sector to acknowledge the vast skill and expertise of public works professionals and refocus on what the industry can do to enhance professional development and worker safety when undertaking public projects on any scale.”

Public Works projects that involve ground disturbance carry risk

Every project that involves ground disturbance carries the risk of personal injury and service disruption resulting from inadvertent damage to underground infrastructure. Public Works projects are no exception. In fact, it is very common for damage incidents to occur during the course of public works projects.

Each year, many organizations across the country voluntarily report on damages caused to their underground infrastructure through the Canadian Common Ground Alliance’s Damage Incident Reporting Tool (DIRT). The resulting DIRT Report categorizes damage incidents by the types of work being undertaken when damage occurs. Of the 5 main categories, two fall exclusively within public works: sewer & water work and street & road work. Together, these types of projects are associated with over a third of reported damage incidents. Other categories  involve both private and public works projects. The breakdown of reported damage incidents per category is:

  • 24% – Sewer & Water
  • 12% Street & Road
  • 17% Utility
  • 15% – Landscaping
  • 15% – Construction
  • 17% Other

Jimmy Yip, Damage Prevention Manager at FortisBC, is on the CCGA’s Damage Reporting Evaluation Committee, which is responsible for analyzing the data submitted, identifying trends and making recommendations based on the data. 

“Nationally, we know that public works projects were involved in at least 36% of damage incidents reported in 2022,” says Jimmy. “In BC, 90% of all incidents were preventable, with the root cause being either a failure to contact BC 1 Call prior to disturbing the ground, or a failure to follow safe digging instructions and practices.” 

Safe digging practices protect workers and communities

The BC 1 Call and the Public Works communities are aligned on the important goal of preventing damage to underground infrastructure in order to keep workers safe, and maintain critical services our communities depend on.

Raising awareness and use of BC 1 Call as a safe digging practice is important 

By obtaining and following safe digging instructions from BC 1 Call’s members in advance of disturbing the ground, users of BC 1 Call’s service can prevent inadvertently damaging member companies’ underground infrastructure and the related potential consequences.

BC 1 Call runs an awareness campaign each year. Our 2024 campaign started in mid-March, and will continue through to mid-September, calling on homeowners and contractors to click or call BC 1 Call before disturbing the ground.   

Just ahead of Safe Digging Month this year, FortisBC posted a reminder to always contact BC 1 Call. The reminder was triggered by a gas line being struck during a public works project. The takeaway: regardless of your level of experience and professionalism, always be sure to check to see what’s down below before disturbing the ground.

To learn more about why safe digging practices are important, check out ‘5 cautionary tales to help you avoid a dig mistake!’ from FortisBC.

BC 1 Call is here to help

Two important actions public works project teams can take to reduce preventable strikes to gas and other utility infrastructure are:

  • Make it a habit to contact BC 1 Call at least three business dates before you disturb the ground (5 days for large projects); and
  • Review and follow BC 1 Call members’ safe digging instructions sent in response to your locate request. 

To minimize risk, why not make contacting BC 1 Call a task within every public works project plan, whether it’s for an infrastructure design, construction or maintenance project?

For any public sector organization with underground infrastructure to protect, why not make it easier on homeowners and professionals who disturb the ground by joining BC 1 Call as a member?  Doing so, means one less place for them to have to check in order to find out what’s below. See The Case for BC 1 Call Membership.

BC 1 Call supports local government Public Works Week Celebrations

This year, BC 1 Call has been invited to participate in two Public Works Week events, both of which are being held on Saturday, May 25, 2024:  

  • City of Mission’s Public Works Event: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Mission Public Works Yard, located at 33835 Dewdney Trunk Road
  • City of Surrey’s Public Works Event: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Surrey Operations Centre, located at 6651 148th Street.

See you there!