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Dedicated Locator – What Project Owners Need to Know

I mentioned in a previous article that many aspects of a Dedicated Locator (DL) program are covered under the Ontario One Call administration. However, many aspects are not contemplated as part of this formal program, so there are many things that should be considered when setting up a DL program as a project owner.

Lets start with the most important one – PLANNING. There is no such thing as planning too early. I have found that often the project owner has planned ahead with lining up designs and permits, but communicating plans with Locate Service Providers (LSPs) is left to the end, at which point, there are no resources available. While Bill 93 states all parties have to agree on an LSP within 10 days of a DL notification, there is nothing that says the LSP has to agree to be a DL service provider (DLSP). The earlier you can communicate with ALL stakeholders, the better.

This isn’t limited to just the DLSP, but also to all impacted utility owners. When a project owner submits a DL program to One Call, they will check and notify all potentially impacted infrastructure owners in the planned project area. At that point, all owners have 10 days to agree on a DLSP, and then another 90 days to work through contracts, records, training, and other logistics. This may sound like a long time, but in reality 90 days is often not enough time if the impacted utility owners were not set up with a team to support a DL request. Contract execution, council approvals, records access, LSP training, tools, and the ability to administer and report on the program are all aspects that could be prepared ahead of time with sufficient warning. Particularly with the smaller municipal entities, there is not a deep structure in place to handle an influx of tickets, permits, reporting, contracts and other components of the DL program.

Another consideration I have seen is that assumptions are made on the availability of LSPs and their productivity. It takes 3 months to recruit and train a locator. It often then takes another 7+ months to reach solid productivity levels. Assuming an LSP has sufficient resources or resources that are going to be producing at a level of an experienced locator is not the reality unfortunately. Again, advance communication, planning, contracts, and financing will help the LSP be able to meet your project needs.

This has been written from the perspective of the project owner and LSP. Check back for a future article from the perspective of the impacted utility owners and how they can best prepare for the eventual DL programs in their areas.

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