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New Guidelines to Become an Approved Dedicated Locator

Ontario One Call created in May 2023 an overview of minimum requirements to become a Dedicated Locate Service Provider (DLSP). This list was created in conjunction with One Call and certain major utility owners. The list released is comprehensive and forms a bare minimum to be able to gain approval, although going above and beyond is highly recommended.

For the uninitiated, the way the locate industry has operated for years is that a consortium of major utility owners called LAC has approved and contracted their locates to approved LSP’s across approximately 13 regions in Ontario. Many other utility owners are not part of this consortium and either contract their locates to the same LSPs or other LSPs or they perform their locates with internal staff. These LAC approved LSP’s have to date been able to quickly respond to the DL programs because of the contracts and resources in place and have been doing the majority of the DL locate work to date. The intention of the Getting Ontario Connected Act (Bill 93) was to speed up locate backlogs and provide more capacity for broadband projects so while the regulations have been approved, there are still considerable roadblocks in place that have left locate capacity that is either underutilized or not utilized in the most effective manner. There is more locate capacity in Ontario that is currently either unable to work on DL broadband projects because they are not contracted to the utilities OR who are already working on DL projects as subcontractors to the already approved LAC LSPs, yet lack these direct contractual capabilities to owners and thus lack flexibility to move to other locate areas.

The list for DLSP approval includes the following minimum components:

Technical Requirements: Ticket Software, Mapping Capabilities, Damage/Safety Tracking, CCGA Best Practice Alignment

Business Requirements: Insurance, Auditing, Training (General and Owner Specific), Experience

My take is this approval guideline is a good addition to getting these smaller yet qualified LSPs set up with the major utility owners for these projects. The list is clear and aligned with the risk levels utility owners require and offers the bare minimum an LSP needs to operate in Ontario on this scale. The clarity is a good step for the industry. The flipside is there is a (necessary) high bar for LSPs to meet in terms of technical and business requirements. Most LSPs who have not traditionally been contracted to a large utility owner will face significant hurdles to gain approval and will have difficulty with some formal aspects of the QA, damage, and training components. Additionally, construction companies who have been hoping to set up internal self locating operations will also face a long road to setting up an approved locate operation while they work to meet the technical and business requirements.

Ron Laidman

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