Strategies & Actions


Wayfinding is defined as a series of signs, maps and graphic materials that are used to provide locational information and directions to travellers. It enables an individual to “find their way” within a geographical location by providing visual cues which are consistent throughout a complex environment.

City staff recognized that there is currently a lack of consistent and reliable wayfinding information within the City, and specifically, the Downtown core. 

Wayfinding study

The wayfinding study commenced in 2014, with the goal of having operational wayfinding signage for the summer tourist season and specifically, the PanAm games in July, 2015.

The purpose of the City's wayfinding study is to provide:

  • a comprehensive and dependable wayfinding program for local residents and tourists
  • wayfinding for a variety of travel types (pedestrians, transit users, motorists)

The priority for Phase 1 of the project is to provide directions for major City facilities within the downtown core, plus major tourist attractions in the vicinity. Read the full staff report (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Future phases of the project may contemplate the inclusion of additional City facilities.

Types of signs

The signs are designed to have an hierarchy of information from the most general at the top of the sign, to the most specific at the bottom.

Phase 1A: Pedestrian kiosks

To direct pedestrians, whether they are standing or seated in a mobility device.

Kiosks look more like a ground/pylon sign and are approximately 2.1 m (7 ft) tall.



Top area of the sign provides geographical location such as Downtown, West Harbour or Hamilton.
Body of the sign includes 2 large areas for posters:

  • Current posters: Downtown Hamilton Tourist map and PanAm Games listing of cultural events.
  • Future posters: Downtown Hamilton Tourist map, HSR Transit systems map (if near a transit facility) or a BIA map (if within a Business Improvement Area).

Pedestrian kiosks will be placed in locations within the downtown core where there is a high volume of pedestrians. They will be installed on new posts directly into the ground. 

Map of kiosk locations (PDF, 116 KB)

Phase 1B: Vehicular street signs

To direct motorists from Highway 403 and York Blvd into the Downtown Core and West Harbour.

Street signs are typically installed approximately 2.4 m (8 ft) above street level.


Top area of the sign provides geographical location such as Downtown, West Harbour or Hamilton.
Body of the sign provides specific information such as a list of destinations with a corresponding directional arrow. There will be anywhere from 1 to 4 destinations noted on a given sign

Vehicular signs will be placed within the road allowance. They will either be installed on new posts or existing utility poles. 

Map of sign locations (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Existing signage

Currently, the City does not have their own brand of wayfinding for motorists. The Tourism-Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) system is in place for several public and private facilities. 

The supervision and delivery of these signs are handled by 2 provincial ministries: 

The TODS program is operated by a third party: Canadian TODS Limited

There are 2 types of TODS Signs:

1. Large signs placed on highways

  • consist of a blue background, white text, arrows, kilometres and pictographs such as icons

Example of TOD Highway sign

MTO has jurisdiction of all signs placed within provincial highways. There is an annual fee for any facility/attraction to be placed on a provincial TODS sign.

2. Signs located within the City

  • a similar design to the highway signs

Example of TOD City sign

The TODS signs located within the City are administered by the Planning and Economic Development Department - Tourism and Culture Division. They are installed and maintained by the Public Works Department. There is an annual fee for any facility/ attraction to be placed on municipal TODS sign.

Contact us

If you wish to provide comments on the sign designs or locations, contact:

Meredith Plant
Senior Landscape Architect
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1219
Email: [email protected]