Bruce County’s Saugeen River Access Point Signage project was initiated in 2022 to update signage along the river, ensuring signs featured current branding, accurate information, and modern technology. The Economic Development team, which runs the highly successfully tourism program Explore the Bruce (ETB), set out to create a memorable and informative experience for river-users. The Saugeen River – stretching approximately 100 km through Bruce County – is a popular tourism destination, attracting paddlers, tubers, boaters, and fishers.
Kiosk signs previously installed in 2012 at 15 river access points within Bruce County (Attachment – 2012 Saugeen River Signage) used the outdated ETB logo, which was updated in 2016 (Attachment – Explore the Bruce Style Guide) and included no other Bruce County-related branding elements. Additionally, messaging and mapping was outdated, inaccurate, and challenging to understand. More importantly, the design did not meet AODA standards.
From November 2022 to May 2023, Bruce County’s Economic Development team held collaborative conversations and meetings with partners. These partners included five municipalities and one conservation authority, Bruce County’s Transportation and Environmental Services Department and Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7).
Input from partners was provided to the graphic designer of the new signage. A challenge identified was deciding pertinent information, and the amount of detail in this information to include in the new designs, noting information can quickly become outdated. This also was challenging when considering use of photography. Seeing an increased use in QR codes since the COVID-19 pandemic, a solution was sought to use these to help reduce and simplify messaging on the signs. The QR codes direct river-users to explorethebruce.com/saugeen-river, which hosts a variety of real-time links and resources with information regarding safety (water levels, weather, and safe boating). Additionally, the nearby river communities are highlighted, with suggestions for businesses to visit, places to eat, shop, stay, and local outfitters to purchase and book rentals from.
Ensuring the updated ETB branding was used through the signs was extremely important, as visitors and residents of Bruce County have strong brand awareness with Explore the Bruce. In addition to the logo, the ETB colours, geometric shapes, fonts, and brand language were used. The updated and simplified maps provide users with more clarity and ease of use. The graphics and text highlight the ‘must know’ information, while additional value-added content is accessible online through the QR code (Attachment – 2023 Saugeen River Signage)
The new signs were sustainably installed in the existing wooden kiosks at all 15 locations, reducing the need for new kiosk materials or disrupting the grounds. The signs also encourage river users to respect the land and environment through the “leave no trace” messaging.