New wayfinding signs could soon be coming to Ottawa-Gatineau

Wayfinding
For illustrative purposes only.

When visitors come to the capital, they expect to be able to walk around and find their way easily.

But right now, a tourism study has found, there’s a gap.

“Wayfinding has been in place, but in sort of a chopped-up manner in Ottawa for a long time,” said Catherine Frechette, senior director of destination development for Ottawa Tourism, explaining the City of Ottawa had its own signs, the National Capital Commission (NCC) had its own signs and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) had their own signs.

A new initiative aims to change that by putting up unified signs on both sides of the river with maps that show interesting things to see within a five-minute walk.

Fourteen organizations have come on board, including the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, the NCC, the province, Parks Canada, Tourism Ottawa, Tourisme Outaouais and several BIAs.

“Tourism is the third largest economic generator for Ottawa. Currently we see over 10 million visitors a year,” Frechette said, adding the signs will also help promote attractions that visitors may not otherwise know about.

Such signs can already be found in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton and in major international metropolises like London and New York City.

Frechette and her team presented the idea to the public last week at Ottawa City Hall.

"Some of the comments that we’ve heard are: ‘Finally!’ and ‘Why is it taking so long?’” she said. “I think it’s more complex in Ottawa because we have more jurisdictions. We have federal entities and municipal entities that own different areas and their own systems in place.”

A feasibility study is underway and a plan for what the signs could look like and how they could be rolled out and maintained is being developed. The results of both will be presented to both Ottawa and Gatineau councils, and to the NCC, in the fall.

If the idea is approved, it will be piloted next summer.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.