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Draft of Wayfinding strategy unveiled for city

Eileen Finn, left and Karen LeGresley Hamre, right, came before committee on Sept. 16 to unveil a draft of a commissioned report on improving signage in Yellowknife. Brett McGarry / NNSL photo
The newly designed proposed signage for Yellowknife trails and landmarks will have a streamlined design with an emphasis on pictographs. photo courtesy of the City of Yellowknife.

Council saw the first glimpse of a strategy to update and replace signage in the city on Sept. 16.

The new strategy – prepared by Lees and Associates, Avens and Associates and Outcrop Communications – presented steps council should take to make the city a more navigable place for tourists.

It suggests the city install signs that use pictographs, develop a wayfinding website and partner with YKDFN for Indigenous languages on the signs.

Look up! This custom pictograph could be placed at locations to notify travellers of the best spots to see the aurora. photo courtesy of the City of Yellowknife.

One of the proposed pictographs includes an image of a figure viewing an aurora, which drew positive comments form council.

"We're trying to make the signage as visible and legible as possible," said Eileen Finn, project manager with Lees and Associates. "It's a simple layout through high contrast of colours. We did use the Extraordinary Yellowknife colours and font which gives a layer of continuity."

Based on public feedback and engagement, the consultants were surprised to find "paper is definitely king" in terms of tourism and wayfinding resources, said Karen LeGresley Hamre, a consultant from Avens Associates.

According to Finn, most tourists don't rely entirely on cellphones when they're visiting the city as they may experience challenges with battery life in the cold winters, which is prime aurora viewing season.

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is listed as a key partner in creating this strategy.

"In terms of the Yellowknives, they saw this as an opportunity for economic development," said LeGresley Hamre.

Eileen Finn, left, and Karen LeGresley Hamre, right, came before committee on Sept. 16 to unveil a draft of a commissioned report on improving signage in Yellowknife.
Brett McGarry/NNSL photo

For foreign languages, an emphasis would be placed on putting translations on printed materials and the wayfinding website.

Finn said data is continuously pulled from ITI to evaluate which languages are required.

"That would need to be ongoing to see which tourists from which countries are coming and how the numbers are evolving," said Finn.

The plan also acknowledges that resource limitations will limit how many signs can be replaced or upgraded and identifies areas with the most need. For example, vandalized signs on the Frame Lake Trail need replacing.

The draft plan was approved by most councillors except for Coun. Robin Williams, who pointed out flaws in the document.

Williams found typos and the omissions of landmark trail projects the city has invested in such as the Niven Lake Trail.

"If I was just to accept this report with the amount of errors that are inside of it, with the amount of park assets that are glaringly missing and then say this is our on opportunity for a wayfinding strategy and to give our blessing to administration, I'm simply uncomfortable with that," said Williams. "I don't know why I'm the only one who thinks this could be a problem."

Coun. Niels Konge said the details of implementing the plan would be hashed out at a later date and that council should not get "stuck in the weeds" but judge the plan on it's overall vision for the city.

The project would cost the city a total $241,600 over five years.