County Wide Wayfinding System Implementation

Introduction

The intent of developing a new County Wide Wayfinding plan is to create a signage family that formalizes the visitor experience through way-finding signage while maintaining and celebrating the uniqueness and diversity that the County is known for and showcasing the County’s features through the use of materials.

Objectives Included:

  • Align signage with The County’s newly developed brand which provides a needed degree of consistency for all signage across The County.
  • Streamline and enable effective movement across The County regardless of entry point.
  • Encourage discovery by providing the tools needed to explore and discover more amenities especially in under promoted areas.
  • Link the communities located within the County together while still maintaining individual unique qualities.
  • Simplify wayfinding experience thereby improving visitor experience.
  • Increasing awareness of attractions which increases spending at local business, therefore improving the overall economy. Increased spending results in improved amenities and services across the County.
  • Celebrating historical elements through design choices.

History of The County's Signage

Assessment of The County Signage


An essential part of the wayfinding planning process is getting an impression of the place, reading the layout of streets and towns on foot and in a vehicle. Over two days in the region, Adam Fine, Form:Media planner and project manager, was a visitor in Prince Edward County. He drove and walked around looking for existing wayfinding implementations, reading the signs (literally and figuratively). Fine drove 347 km of county roads over 2 days to: collect data, get a sense of how things are connected, test the condition of roads and destinations, and establish how any existing wayfinding and signage is working.

He had in mind the following questions:

  1. Could a visitor naturally end up at essential attractions in the region, if they didn’t know where they were?
  2. Did the existing signs strengthen the visitor’s sense of place, or confuse?
  3. Did the signs provide a welcoming experience?
  4. Are there too many signs or too few in the environment?
  5. Did signs complement or detract from the environment?

 

This section outlines his experience and observations, and forms the baseline to produce strategic recommendations, and design sign types. Prince Edward County is a municipality on an island of a little over 1000 km², separated from mainland Ontario by the Bay of Quinte and the Murray Canal. It is populated at rural densities throughout (24 people per km²), with a large amount of land employed in agriculture. There are several small population centres, mostly along the municipality’s south, with the largest being Picton (4702 people in the 2016 census).

General impressions

County-wide

There is a large amount of signage throughout PEC. Most of PEC’s signage tends toward the generic and unbranded—there is little that would build an association between the roads, the landscape, and the County as a distinct, branded entity. That said, having a single-tier municipality means that there is little competition for branding between the County and other municipal governments, or specific communities. There is an
opportunity to create a much stronger brand identity and recognition.

Communities

Three of the main communities may not require much wayfinding effort: Picton, Wellington, and Bloomfield’s main streets are all coincident with main highways through the region. If a visitor was looking for the retail areas of each place, they could not miss them. Consecon, by contrast, requires a lot of help: it does not lie on a major highway (its Mill Street runs roughly parallel with the Loyalist Highway), the road named “Consecon Main Street” is objectively not the main street in the village, and there are three ways in and out of the town. Lastly, Rossmore, which lies south of Belleville, at the gateway to the County at the foot of the Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge, doesn’t have a clear centre nor did it seem to have destinations that might be tourism-focused.

Route layout

PEC isn’t a large county, but there are many ways between various points in the region. Fortunately, as an island, there are few entry points, two on major road bridges:

  1. Carrying Place, near Trenton/Quinte West in the west,
  2. the Norris Whitney Bridge between the City of Belleville and Rossmore
  3. the Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge / highway 49 in the east, connecting with the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and nearby Deseronto.
  4. the ferry service from Glenora to Adolphustown

There is a lesser-used access point in the far west of the County, on County Road 64 . Currently, highway 49 provides an unambiguous connection with Picton. The main route from Belleville, Highway 62 connects to Bloomfield and Picton from the west. Wellington and Consecon are not as clearly connected with the main roads from outside the County. Consecon is easily missed as it is adjacent to, but does not lie directly on the Loyalist Parkway. The Loyalist Parkway in general, provides an important spine to the island’s main settled areas and destinations. Existing fingerboard directional signs The county has an existing fingerboard sign system (fig. 2) which has good coverage throughout the region.

Despite the coverage, the system has several functional issues:

  • many signs carry far too many messages,
  • tourism messages are often stacked below other kinds of guide signs,
  • the signs themselves aren’t branded for the County,
  • many signs feature custom corporate logos which
  • creates a lot of visual clutter ,
  • most fingerboards are white legend on a bluebackground—common for on-road tourism signs—but there are different type weights and widths in play,
  • some fingerboard signs use yellow on blue for no clearreason,
  • smaller destination signs are often ill suited to theirenvironment (very wide, installed on a single post, orrotated 90º from other messages)

Recommendations

Ironically, the path to wayfinding is neither direct, nor simple. At the regional level, such as in this project, there are hundreds of potential public and private tourism destinations, spread over a large area (1000 km²) and appearing along approximately 1,100 km of public roads. There is, of course, no budget which enables Prince Edward County to sign every place at every intersection, nor would this be a desirable result. The key to wayfinding success is setting priorities, and phasing a program in over the long term, but keep in mind:

  • policies and budgets change,
  • tourism destinations come and go, and
  • brands become outdated long before the signs do.

The recommendations in this report, our experience, and the context of Prince Edward County. In the next phase of this project, we will employ the recommendations below as a basis for deciding what sign types we require, how the wayfinding system should work, and begin designing sign structures and artwork.

Wayfinding strategy

1—Leverage Mainstreets

Picton, Wellington, and Bloomfield all have linear mainstreets which lie on primary county roads—they are eminently legible for visitors, with most destinations lying along the main street. We do recommend directing visitors to these retail areas from outside the urban areas. However, we recommend against cluttering up such places—any wayfinding to destinations along the street would merely state the obvious. Destinations which are off of the main street are the exception, and may require special help. Of the main communities, Consecon is unique in that its downtown is not along a primary county road.

2—Begin with the short-list of destinations

Essential to beginning a wayfinding program is to select a small set of destinations and ensure they are well covered. Other destinations may be added over time. In the Strategy Report, see “Primary and secondary regional destinations” on page 52 and local maps thereafter. Only major public/civic destinations have been included.

3—Treat Arts and Taste Trails as signage programs, but not as wayfinding

The Arts Trail and Taste Trail are treated and signed as tourism themed routes, but the reality is that the destinations do not make up coherent routes which a visitor is expected to follow. We think tourism themed routes are worth exploring, but the current program will not fulfil that function.

4—Leave MTO roads out of the system

Due to explicit MTO restrictions, we will not be able to directly sign on several highways in the region, including sections of Highways 33, 62. Fortunately, sections of King’s Highways which run through towns (called connecting links) are exempt from the MTO restriction on signage. Bloomfield and Picton have connecting link roads which may be signed. Let the provincial C-TODS system do tourism destination signage on provincial roads in the region. The Prince Edward County wayfinding system will complement C-TODS with a parallel regional system using only county roads. We recommend that the County manage C-TODS applications on behalf of clients, to ensure complete direction for visitors when travel on MTO roads is involved. Access to C-TODS sign space, nevertheless, should not hold back installations on county roads.

Signage Family Design 

There are several new designs to fill out a county sign system, as well as modifications to the existing designs. Some of these are fundamental changes which require action to fulfil this project’s goals, whereas others are suggestions to make the sign system more comprehensive but which are not essential. Sign type designs which appear in this section show existing designs: those which predate this strategy. New designs will be developed from the recommendations here.

For more information on the full Strategy Report, please see link below. The Strategy document takes a high level look at developing a signage plan for The County by first, establishing the key decision points for visitors. From there, the types of signs, sign locations and content on all the signs are further detailed out in the Design Intent Document and Location Plan Schedule. 

Prince Edward County Wayfinding Implementation Strategic Report‌ (8mb PDF file)

Design Intent Document

The Design Intent document details all the sign types including detailed construction drawings. The document also includes establishing a standardized use of symbols, and regulatory signs.

County Wide Gateway and Downtown Gateway signs were designed and approved prior to the completion of this document. They are part of a 2017 "Signage Design Guidelines" found here. Please note, the directional signage and Millennium Trail signage are earlier concepts that were further revised as part of Form Media's 2019 Design Intent Document. The Design Intent Document supercedes the earlier "Signage Design Guidelines". 

Prince Edward County Wayfinding System Implementation—Design Intent‌ (17mb PDF File)

2017 PEC Signage Design Guidelines‌ (For Gateway Signage Design Only)

Location Plan

The following pages split the region into 54 zones, showing our recommended sign installations in each. Each zone is given on a le�� and right page. The map at le�� shows sign types recommended in various positions at each site to guide visitors along the expected paths of travel. The table at right shows details for each sign in the plan—use the sign code to match up with the labels on the map. As zones are created or removed, the reference numbers in this document and the database will remain static (e.g. zone 5 will always remain zone 5). The zones will be presented sequentially, but this and future plans may be missing numbers.

The intent of a location plan is:

  1. to establish quantities of sign-types to be able to provide a budget estimate for the entire program of signs, and
  2. to establish where signs should be installed in the study area.
  3. to specify what content goes on each sign

Locations given are not exact, they may move +/- 50m in any direction depending on engineering, site condition, land ownership, or other variables.

Phases of sign installation :

  1. Millennium Trail signage (Fabricated and Installed in fall 2019) 
  2. Priority highway directionals (no capital allocated at this time) 
  3. Urban signage (Various sign types planned for Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington to be installed by spring 2020)
  4. Secondary highway directionals (no capital allocated at this time) 
  5. Downtown Gateway Signs (New Picton Gateway signs planned for spring 2020) 
  6. County Wide Gateway Signs (New County Gateway sign in Carrying Place planned for spring 2020) 

Prince Edward County Wayfinding Program Location Plan‌ (10mb PDF file) 

For more information or general inquiries related to this program please contact:

Trevor Crowe

Community Development Coordinator
The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward

T: 613.476.2148 ext: 2504

email TCrowe at PECounty.on.ca‌