With the weather warming up, and home improvement projects churning in the minds of many locals, provincial natural gas provider FortisBC is reminding them to call before they dig.

FortisBC’s team of Damage Prevention Officers said in a recent press release that utilizing their free service to identify underground infrastructure before breaking ground greatly reduces the risk of injury, avoids interrupting essential services, and prevents costly repairs.

“We are there to educate and provide information,” shared Tara Garrett, damage prevention officer with FortisBC. “We’re trying to prevent mistakes from happening. But mistakes do happen and we never want to make anyone feel bad for that so we’re there to help educate so those mistakes don’t happen twice. We want everyone to always keep themselves and each other safe.”

To keep residents safe and informed of the location of any potential infrastructure, natural gas or otherwise, FortisBC offers its BC 1 Call as a solution. BC 1 Call is 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.”

“We might be a small team, but we collaborate with so many organizations,” added Ron Field, damage prevention officer with FortisBC. “Internally with our operations teams, and externally with regulators, WorkSafe BC, BC 1 Call, first responders, other utilities and so many others, it really is a team effort to help reduce damages to underground utilities and help keep the public safe.”

The efforts of Field and his team seem to be working, as FortisBC reports that for the first time in 20 years, damages to their underground gas system fell below 900 in 2022. The utility provider added that approximately 70 percent of damages were from those who did not contact BC 1 Call before digging.

FortisBC said 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 BC 1 Call 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.