By Steve Pawlett
Special to Ontario Construction News
Contractors in northeastern Ontario are experiencing construction project delays due to waits of up to three months for underground infrastructure locates.
In Ontario, contractors are required to go through Ontario One Call to contact respective utility companies that have underground infrastructure at construction sites. Legally, the utility company has five days to provide details on where the infrastructure is located, or they’ll be penalized and no work can take place until the locates are labelled.
However, according to Jamie Clarke, president of the Timmins Construction Association (TCA), builders are now waiting one to three months for locate requests and the delays are impacting construction projects.
“Northern Ontario has a very narrow window of opportunity to complete critical infrastructure projects vital to our region’s economic growth and development, given our short summer season,” Clarke said. “Furthermore, the massive financial burden these delays bring to firms can heavily impact the outcome of the project and our community’s ability to encourage new investment in the future.”
He voiced his concerns to Ontario’s Minister of and Business Service Delivery:
“Contractors and developers who submit a locate request through Ontario One Call in Timmins are being subjected to up to three months wait time,” Smith said in his address to Minister Kaleed Rasheed.
“The backlog of locate submissions to Ontario One Call has compounded the already growing barriers to completing projects on time—including workforce shortages, permitting, and planning delays, which hinder our region’s competitiveness,” adds Clarke.
The TCA and the broader builders and developers’ community is asking the ministry to work with Ontario One Call to address the severe accumulation of requests for locates, recommending a review of how P3 partnerships with independent contractors can provide locate services to assist in moving these projects forward in a mutually beneficial way to all involved.
If a contractor has two months to complete an excavation but is waiting three months for a locate, that job gets delayed, and penalties can come back on the contractor.
Clarke said even the City of Timmins experienced a delay in line locates as it was waiting to begin work on a connecting link on Algonquin Boulevard.
“They were prolonged; I believe it was three weeks before they could get started,” he said.
Clarke said he is worried people will get fed up with waiting and start digging “without knowing what’s in the ground.”
“That could be catastrophic.”