Directional signs in downtown Vancouver make it easy to find your way

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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From the southwest corner of Esther Short Park, it’s 0.1 miles to the waterfront. From the waterfront, it’s 0.8 miles to Fort Vancouver.

Pedestrians in downtown Vancouver can now wander with direction thanks to the ongoing installation of 38 wayfinding signs. The city was awarded two Lodging Tax Program grants, one in 2016 for $75,000 and a second in 2017 for $85,000.

“We’re looking at supporting economic development in downtown and also promoting walkability,” said Jennifer Campos, city senior planner.

The first grant funds 38 wayfinding signs, which include 34 post-mounted signs, two large kiosk signs at Esther Short Park and Turtle Place, and two corridor map signs positioned along Main Street. The second grant will allow the city to install an additional 28 signs next year in downtown, Uptown Village and along the waterfront.

“We want to make sure when there’s visitors in the downtown area, there’s information,” Campos said.

The new sign system is designed so that tourists and locals alike can easily navigate downtown and maybe discover a new location at the same time.

The signs are every two or three blocks.

“We want to make sure if we’re pointing a tourist in a direction, we don’t leave them hanging,” she said.

If everything goes according to plan, the sign system could also help stimulate further economic growth as tourists wander downtown and pass by businesses they might have otherwise missed.

When the system was in the planning stages, Campos said the city worked with downtown stakeholders to ensure a collaborative process. In 2014, those conversations resulted in the Downtown Vancouver Pedestrian Wayfinding Plan. The plan developed not only the hierarchy system for the wayfinding signs, but prepared preferred sign design and sign locations.

One of those stakeholders is the Vancouver Farmers Market.

Jordan Boldt, executive director of the market, said for years the market has been the large draw downtown on weekends, but with new development occurring in the area, a wayfinding system could help visitors explore.

“They’re part of making a walkable downtown,” Boldt said. “We have a lot of people downtown on the weekend walking around and it’s a great resource.”