Published: Mar 07, 2022
It's Your Land, but You Shouldn't Dig On It…
No, you shouldn't disturb the ground on your land without carefully considering ground disturbance regulations. That means you shouldn't dig, trench, level, plow, plant a tree, or even sink fence posts.
That is, unless you've:
Ground disturbance is activity that results in a disturbance or displacement of soil, with these exceptions:
Yes, this does mean when digging a 60 cm (2 foot) hole for a shrub, or sinking a fence post 45 cm (18 inches), you are engaging in ground disturbance.
For you own safety and the safety of others, there are regulations that apply.
When the One-Call Centre in your province receives a call from you, they notify all the registered owners of underground facilities in your area that you are planning a ground disturbance.
Your local gas company, electricity carrier, cable TV company, or even pipeline companies are all made aware that you intend to dig.
Then they are required to either mark their facilities in your dig site or notify you in writing that their facilities are too far away for you to worry about.
That's a relief. Now you won't be digging through your cable TV line.
A One-Call only covers off the facilities registered with your provincial One-Call centre.
In the case of your utilities, the lines are only marked to the utility meter. Any lines past that are considered ‘private' and will not be marked in response to a One-Call.
Also, what about that underground power line to your shed? The utility lines to your cabin?
What about lines to your hot tub? Garden? Gazebo?
Rural landowners: what about your stock waterers? Chicken coop? Barn?
Do you know if you have a big, heavy tractor and it sinks more than a foot into the mud, that could be ground disturbance?
Not all underground facility owners are registered with the provincial One-Call Centre, but it's still your responsibility to be sure all facilities are located before starting any ground disturbance.
You need someone to mark all the underground facilities on your property that are privately owned, and all the public facilities past the utility metre.
That's why you need to call a private line locator and arrange for them to locate and mark all the facilities in your dig zone that weren't marked because of your One-Call.
Once that's done, then you can safely go ahead with your plans. You can avoid rude surprises like digging up your power line, or worse yet, having an all-too-intimate and explosive experience with your gas line.
Yes, it can seem like a bit much when all you want to do is plant a tree, but unintended damage to underground facilities can cost thousands in repair, and millions in damages.
Locates on all the public and private underground facilities on your property are cheap insurance, considering the potential risk of striking a line.