The Town of Aurora just outside Toronto, Canada takes its trail network seriously. With over 62 kilometers of trails connecting neighborhood parks, town facilities and green spaces, residents and visitors alike are encouraged to walk, run and bike as they explore the area.
Recently, the town implemented a trail wayfinding strategy to create brand new signs along the trails, an important initiative considering that previously, there had been no signage to guide users. When developing the strategy, the town recognized the need for the signs to go beyond the norm to meet the high standards of the area’s aesthetics and resident expectations. The team in charge developed a consistent theme for the entire system and made sure that each sign clearly identified the trails and other features in the area.
Brian Jakovina, Aurora’s landscape architect, led the project. With responsibilities extending to design work for the town, Jakovina worked with his team to develop a theme that could be applied not only to the wayfinding system, but for other uses as well. The design challenge was to come up with a real vision for the town’s signage needs.
He explained that the trail network had significantly expanded over the past decade and with no signs in place, people simply didn’t know where they were headed as they explored. There are a lot of trails in the surrounding areas as well, and the wayfinding strategy was also put in place to link up with other trail networks.
As is to be expected with a municipal project like this, the biggest challenge was to get the signs implemented with a strict budget. Once the budget was confirmed, the team moved forward with the design, generating a palette with readability and construction materials in mind.
The inspiration for the design base came from Aurora’s colorful variety of wildflowers, and the flower graphics set the tone for developing design. Each trail is named for a notable resident, further evolving the design into one which honors each trails’ namesake with associated elements.
In total, the design team chose 12 colors to use across the wayfinding system, which will be implemented over time. Jakovina designed the signs with the theme in hand and prepared the graphics.
Choosing the materials fell the contractor, but the town required the materials to meet aesthetic and durability requirements. In the end, the signs were fabricated with ALTO™ Aluminum and the bases with rot and decay resistant hardwood.
Since the signs went up, Jakovina says the feedback has been excellent. The signs are unique and Jakovina explained they are different from the standard municipal signage look, to the point where they even have a national park feeling.
Special thanks to Brian Jakovina from the Town of Aurora for speaking to us about this project.