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Wayfinding Strategy

This project is a strategic look at wayfinding in Owen Sound—to determine how best to ensure that visitors and residents alike can safely navigate within the city and find its public assets such as parks, River District, trails, and waterfront. Wayfinding provides a sense of place and makes the city more welcoming. Wayfinding signage creates tremendous value for visitors, who will better be able to take advantage of your assets, but also for residents—and new residents—who will be more informed about all there is to do. 
Signage has many functions. It can attract visitors, provide direction, inform and educate. It links visitors with the available experiences in an area. Tourism destinations invest a lot in marketing and creating experiences, but the same destinations often fail to make improvements to their signage. To ensure that tourism benefits the local community and economy, visitors to the area need to be given direction to find what they’re looking for.
In this project, we are not designing a new wayfinding sign system. Since 2011, municipalities in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe Counties (under the Regional Tourism Organization 7 or RTO7) have been implementing a common sign system on roads, trails, and in urban areas. The guidelines in the RTO7 Wayfinding Signage Standards and Specifications document are now very well implemented, with hundreds of signs installed in many municipalities, both urban and rural. Using the existing RTO7 sign system designs enables access to infrastructure funding, but more importantly, it ties Owen Sound into a consistent system throughout the region. Visitors don’t know or care about boundaries, and a consistent regional wayfinding system provides a seamless experience for visitors from neighbouring municipalities and beyond. 

Some of the primary tasks in the project have been:

•     mapping the town’s assets and determining which destinations are appropriate to include in the system
•     analyzing the current state of signage in Owen Sound—what signs exist and in what condition are they?
•     designing a custom-branded community header for Owen Sound, required for several sign types in the RTO7 wayfinding system
•     deciding which RTO7 sign types are appropriate for Owen Sound, noting which new designs may be required outside the existing system
•     planning out a complete program of sign installations with recommended locations, messaging, and priority

Wayfinding signage is a large investment for any municipality. It requires years of commitment, proper planning, and implementation to achieve. Owen Sound’s Official Plan and River District 
Action Plan both recommend wayfinding signage to meet their objectives. This document provides the city with the guidance the city needs to implement a solid, consistent, functional wayfinding system for years to come. As new assets or destinations are added to the city, related signage should follow similar standards.


Contact Us

808 2nd Avenue East,
Owen Sound, ON
N4K 2H4
Phone: 519-376-1440
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