Harold Winkworth recently received calls from Eastwood homeowners informed him that
their services such as telephone and internet had been cut off as a result of the
construction activity in the Eastwood area. The homeowner contacted the site Forman
who confirmed that an equipment operator severed the underground lines.
In follow-up he learned that this was not an isolated incident and that other homeowners
have lost service for lengthy periods of time since the start-up of the sewer project.
"Accidents will happen," Winkworth said. "The fact that it happened is not the issue.
The fact that no one responded is the issue. It took the homeowner close to twenty-four
hours to have the telephone service restored. We cannot have homeowners spending
several hours chasing service providers in an effort to have their services restored.
This is not the homeowners problem!"
"Understanding that construction in the Eastwood area will be part of our lives
over the next couple of years, one would assume that this situation will again surface
from time to time. With today's technology and the multitude of locate flags on
Centennial Ave, it is difficult to comprehend how this can happen," states Winkworth.
"Should this be an ongoing issue, the Municipality may need to establish a contingency
plan whereby service provider technicians would be available on site at all times
to address incidents."
Contacting Lloyd Perrin, Director of Physical Operations at the Municipality of
Central Elgin, on September 4, 2013, Winkworth suggested that it is the responsibility
of the Municipality to hold the Construction Company accountable and to ensure that
they have an action plan in place to respond in the event of an accidental mishap
resulting in lost service.
Mr.Perrin responded to Mr. Winkworth on September 6th, thanking him "for bringing
the resident’s concerns forward regarding the interruption to Bell and Rogers services
on Centennial Ave as of late, and providing the opportunity for the municipality
to clarify the situation."
Mr. Perrin informed Mr. Winkworth that anyone in Ontario performing an excavation,
whether on public or private property, is required to obtain utility locates. Locates
for all utilities - including but not limited to underground power, gas service,
telephone service, cable TV, water, sewer, and storm sewers - are required prior
to any excavation being undertaken. Failure to obtain locates can result in the
affected utility recovering costs for repairs to their service if damaged by the
excavation process. In addition to the utility company being able to recover their
costs for repairs, an excavator can also incur fines from TSSA, and/or the Ministry
of Labour, depending on the utility that is damaged. Based on these penalties, excavators
(including Amico) take their responsibility of obtaining utility locates and hand
digging to find buried underground utilities very seriously. I can attest to this
as I am aware that Amico has included the exposure of underground utilities in their
safety talks with their workers.
Some of the "hits" that you referenced in your email are due to the affected utility
company not locating the wires that were hit by the excavator. Both Bell and Rogers
only locate the main cable that runs in the road allowance between termination boxes
(the brown and green boxes that you see along the road allowance line). Neither
Rogers or Bell will locate the individual service lines that run to individual houses
from these termination boxes. Perrin said this has been the policy of these
two utility companies for approximately the last 12 years.
The individual service lines do not run in the same trench as the main line, as they
are installed by the utility at a different point in time. Due to the policy of
the utility companies not wishing to locate service wires, and the wires not being
located in a standard running corridor within the road allowance, it is extremely
difficult for an excavator to know where the wires are, and secondly, be able to
hand dig to find them. As a result, service wires do get cut on occasion.
Earlier in the job a "100 pair" main telephone cable, as well as a Rogers transmission
cable, were also severed. Neither of these cables were located by the utility company's
locate contractor, and as a result, were not know to the contractor. While this
is unfortunate, it is not the fault of the contractor or the municipality.
If the contractor does cut a service wire, or any utility for that matter, it is
their responsibility to immediately notify the affected utility. After that point
of contact with the utility, it is up to the utility to schedule and undertake the
The recent interruption in service that you are referencing in your email were service
wire hits. The affected utility company was immediately notified by the contractor.
Unfortunately, the affected utility company did not react to the situation as timely
as the customer, or we, would like.
I can assure you that the municipality, as well as the Contractor (Amico), will endeavour
to ensure that utilities are appropriately located (in keeping with the applicable
utility's policy) and that when located, the utility will be uncovered by hand digging
to avoid our residents from having utility service interrupted, Perrin concluded.
"Now that there is a better understanding of how things work, I would ask that the
Municipality share the homeowners' frustrations with Bell and Rogers," Winkworth
wrote back to Perrin on September 7th. "As stated in the past, there are many senior
homeowners in the Eastwood area that require essential services (i.e. telephone),
as well as others that work from home requiring internet service."
"The homeowner's expectation that needs to be conveyed, is that the utility company
responsible for repair understands the required urgency in restoring service in
a timely manner. If responsibility is that of the utility company, then the Municipality
has to act as a support mechanism for the homeowners in following up on these issues.
On that note, I will continue to suggest to the homeowners to contact the Municipality
should there be a lengthy unexplained loss of service," Winkworth concluded.
The municipality contacted our representatives at both Bell and Rogers to make them
aware of the residents' as well as our concerns with the improper locating that
has been completed by their contractor, as well as their tardiness in repairing
damaged plant that results from their policy decisions and errors. We have requested
that they address these concerns immediately, Perrin responded.
I would strongly encourage that residents who suffer interrupted service contact
Bell and Rogers. After all, the resident is the customer and the utility may give
their concern more weight compared to the municipality's concern. That being said,
the municipality will continue to support the residents in their dealings with these