Spring is in the air, and FortisBC is reminding British Columbians to dig with care. With the season’s warmer weather allowing Merrittonians to improve their properties, or begin to repair them from the floods, Fortis is reminding homeowners and contractors to “click or call” the free BC 1 Call service before beginning any outdoor projects.

April is Safe Digging Month in BC, officially recognized to bring awareness to BC 1 Call, a non-profit organization which provides free searches of gas lines and underground services prior to excavation or disturbance of the ground. With basic information such as dates, depths, locations, and property ownership, Merrittonians can request a “locate ticket” of their dig site via phone or online. Big or small, all outdoor improvement projects warrant a “click or call.”

According to the organization’s website, utilizing this free-of-charge service reduces the risk of personal injury, avoids interrupting essential services, and prevents costly repairs to public infrastructure and personal property. Usage of the service increased by 14 percent in 2021, seeing over 240,000 total requests submitted by 89,000 users. The number of these users increased 44 percent from 2020 to 2021.

“Even with these great achievements, more remains to be done to drive consistent use of BC 1 Call by excavators, both professionals and homeowners, and to persuade infrastructure owners of the value of membership,” said Chris Hyland, CEO and President of BC 1 Call.

Accidents involving underground infrastructure continue to be prevalent in BC today. According to the Canadian Common Ground Alliance’s 2020 Damage Information Report Tool (DIRT) report, 49 percent of all reported damage incidents in B.C. that year involved a failure to request a locate ticket with BC 1 Call. FortisBC’s Damage Prevention and Emergency Services Manager, Ian Turnbull, says that number is even higher this year.

“In 2021, FortisBC noted 1,034 instances of British Columbians damaging underground natural gas lines, and approximately 60 percent of damages were from those who did not contact BC 1 Call before digging,” said Turnbull.

“The safety of our customers and employees is a top priority for FortisBC, so please help us, and yourselves, by reaching out to BC 1 Call first.”

BC 1 Call says common outdoor improvement projects that can damage underground infrastructure include building or installing fence posts, realtor signs, mailboxes, patios, retaining walls, fire pits, and even planting and digging a garden. Those planning similar projects should contact the organization before getting started.

BC 1 Call’s location request tickets can be accessed entirely free of charge by phone at
1-800-474-6886, or online at www.bc1c.ca.