Province taking action to address industry challenges
By Nadia Todorova
RCCAO has made great progress with our collaborative and sustained engagement at Queen’s Park. The past week saw several important and positive government announcements for the infrastructure industry. These changes reflect RCCAO’s continued efforts to bring awareness to the importance of infrastructure for the prosperity of all Ontarians and constructively address current challenges.
On March 8, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 93, Getting Ontario Connected Act, which contains significant regulatory reforms to the Ontario One Call utility locates system. Although largely out of sight, the identification and location of underground utilities represents a crucial step of the infrastructure and construction process. Without safely identifying and marking the location of underground utilities on construction sites, work largely comes to a halt on a project.
The current system legally mandates locate requests be responded to within five business days, however, as high as 85% of requests are late. One Call’s own reported data shows that 49% of call tickets tool longer than 15 days, with only 14% being completed within the legislated five-day timeline. These costly delays mount quickly and delay critical infrastructure work. For example, each hour of idle time in the sewer and watermain sector incurs $1,000 in additional costs, while that figure is $10,000 per day in the roads sector.
Thus, Bill 93 represents an important step toward meaningful improvements to a system that has caused considerable difficulties for industry. The proposed reforms, such as allowing contractors on the same dig site to share locates, extending and standardizing the validity period of locates to a minimum of 60 days and mandating the use of a dedicated locator model for certain projects, are elements that will provide tangible and positive changes to worksites across Ontario.
The reforms in Bill 93 advance RCCAO’s recommendations put forth during this winter’s pre-budget consultation process. RCCAO’s will continue its focus on this file and encourages all MPPs to adopt the proposed changes during the current legislative session.
On March 10, the Government of Ontario released Connecting the GTHA: A Transportation Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which brings a much-needed long-term focus to transportation and infrastructure planning in Ontario.
The Transportation Plan is a crucial element of ensuring the transportation needs across the region are addressed and that critical infrastructure expands appropriately to grow with the province over the long-term. This visionary approach provides a welcomed proactive and predictable framework for industry and labour.
RCCAO is incredibly pleased to see the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 as part of this long-term vision for Ontario. Both projects are of vital importance for the province that will reduce congestion, foster long-term economic competitiveness, and improve connectivity throughout the region. The Plan provides a blueprint for addressing the expected population growth in Ontario and facilitates the expansion of badly needed housing supply, while providing a significant economic boost to the province that will create thousands of jobs.
Importantly, the Plan contains a blend of significant highway expansion along with continued focus on transit development for the region. This is so important; it is not a choice of either or, but rather an all-encompassing planning approach that will ensure that Ontario is well equipped to address the tremendous long-term growth predicted across the region.
It was also an honour to have Premier Ford recognize RCCAO and our members’ work during his podium remarks at the Plan’s announcement. The Plan has been a great example of collaboration between governments, industry and civil society to help build the future of Ontario.
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