Ottawa-Gatineau Pedestrian Wayfinding Feasibility Study

Boosting the Local Economy

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Ottawa-Gatineau Pedestrian Wayfinding Feasibility Study

Wayfinding Readiness

The Ottawa-Gatineau region is unlike any in the world. Not only is it Canada’s national capital and a large tourist destination, it is divided across two different provinces, has two different primary languages, and is separated by a major waterway. In a city with such varied visitors, residents, and geography, the wayfinding system needs to be carefully designed to ensure it meets everyone’s needs. Entro helped Ottawa Tourism understand their wayfinding systems’ challenges, objectives, and requirements with a comprehensive Pedestrian Wayfinding Feasibility Study for the Ottawa-Gatineau area. The research helped determine the message priority and strategy, as well its budget, funding and implementation assessment.
  • Client

    Ottawa Tourism

  • Location

    Ottawa, Ontario

  • Sector


  • Discipline

    Wayfinding Strategy, Feasibility Study, Research, Consultation

  • Photography


Spread of Wayfinding Feasibility Study Document showing User Scenarios for

The Who, What, Where, and Why of Wayfinding

To define our priorities, we held a series of stakeholder workshops, pedestrian intercept surveys, consultations, and online surveys with the public. These helped us understand our audiences and what type of information they find valuable, as well as what they expect from a unified wayfinding system. To determine how wayfinding could improve the economy and promote tourism, we met with over 75 representatives from the retail, hospitality, events, and culture industries, among many others. From these consultations, we were able to understand the business community’s expectations and incorporate their needs into planning, implementation, and future collaborations.

We also compiled feedback from pedestrian intercept surveys and two ongoing bilingual online surveys. These yielded detailed information from over 300 individuals on their interests, perceptions, and habits. We learned what type of information they need to navigate the area, and what kind of knowledge we can expect them to have. We tracked their knowledge of local district names, how they move through the city, what modes of transportation they use, and how they felt that wayfinding would make their journey easier. With this information, we could ensure the signage provided relevant and helpful information that could be understood by all audiences.

Stakeholder workshop facilitated by Entro.
Entro researcher interviewing pedestrians in downtown Ottawa.
  • 75

    representatives from retail, hospitality, events and culture industries participated in meetings and workshops.

  • 64

    individuals participated in pedestrian intercept surveys at key locations.

  • 236

    members of the public responded to online surveys.

Spread of Wayfinding Feasibility Study document showing research data with graphis and infographics.
Map showing recommended locations for different sign types.
A Roadmap for the Future

We compiled all results into a Feasibility Study that includes design criteria and a wayfinding strategy. It identifies the best areas in Ottawa-Gatineau for pedestrian wayfinding, circulation plans, strategic sign locations, and integration of technology. The research established a hierarchy of destinations and information to appear on signage, so that visitors and residents can explore the Ottawa-Gatineau area efficiently while enjoying a sense of exploration and discovery.


Looking to the future, the report explores estimated costs, funding model, a phased implementation strategy, and a pilot plan for testing the wayfinding program in a small, centralized area of Ottawa-Gatineau.

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