When we plant in our garden, we usually just plant and don't really think about it. But as our yards get smaller and we have more utility services, there are many buried obstacles to be aware of. Buried lines can include gas, hydro, water, sewer, phone, and TV lines. Though many of these line should be buried deep under ground and well protected, some of them are not. Since soil around the Ottawa area is often quite heavy clay and some areas are riddled with rocks, it can be hard to tell what's what underground when you do hit it.
It's always a good idea to make sure you're "All Clear" before you dig and plant a tree. Not only is it a good idea, it's also the law. The good part is, the process to get locates is free. You can visit the Ontario One Call website at http://www.on1call.com or you can call them at 1-800-400-2255 to start your locates. Keep in mind that there can be a delay in getting locates depending on how busy they are with requests. In the spring, there's often a delay of up to three weeks, though summer and fall are usually much faster. Sometimes things get delayed when there are major lines, too. Our strawberry field has a major Fibre Optic Cable though it and it's taken quite some time to find it when we did have to call. You also need to keep in mind that locates are only valid for 30 days. In some ways, this can be silly since those lines don't really move, but it's more of a legal and liability issue for the utility companies so we need to accept that.
So if you're thinking of planting a tree where you need to dig in your yard, or even have us install a tree, make sure to plan ahead and call for your locates. Give yourself a couple weeks to get your locates. It's always good to have the call in before you get your tree since it helps shorten the waiting time when you are ready to plant.
Though it does sound like bit of a hassle, hitting water, gas, or hydro lines are very expensive and bad ideas not to mention they can be dangerous. Make the call and play it safe!