Way-finding is designed to help people who are not familiar with the area or trail system find their way to the desired result, following along a trail, such as the Bruce Trail or find those waterfalls on a scenic driving route. There are common elements in all way-finding systems that need to be addressed if it is going to be effective:
If the above is done correctly, people can effectively find their way in an unfamiliar area. If one or two of the above items are left out or are unclear, you can become very lost and disoriented. In some very rare cases, disorientation from the marked path has caused death due to starvation and/or dehydration. People have become so lost they were been unable to find their way back to the trail and to help.
During my recent hike, I became a bit disoriented and lost the trail I was following, because unannounced to me it entered into an area, clearly signed with large “DO NOT ENTER – Authorized Personnel Only”. When I was out hiking, I did not realize this area is now public lands and no longer enforced as “DO NOT ENTER”. Instead I was trespassing on the adjacent private lands. The main reason, the trail was not well marked when it entered the area and the warning signs kept me out. Good thing I had a GPS app, compass, and trail maps, I was able to find the trail about 100m south from the area I lost it when it turned east again.
A great example of way-finding in use is the system the Bruce Trail uses. The Bruce Trail is just under 900km long plus has numerous side trails. Over the whole trail system, the main trail is marked with a white blaze, whereas the side trails are marked with a blue blaze. Each blaze measures 15cm (6”) high by 5 cm (2”) wide. One blaze means the trail continues straight. Two blazes above the other, with one blaze slightly offset means the trail will be changing direction and you are to follow the top blaze’s direction. “T” blaze, 2 blazes with the top blaze horizontal, over a vertical bottom blaze, means you have come to the end of the trail. Side trails are typically signed with a blue plaque with the naming the side trail, if there is a parking lot or loop, and how many km. This simple, clearly visible, and very uniform way-finding system helps people, both experienced and not, easily find their way, without maps nor GPS, for the most part.
In future blogs, I will discuss in further detail about the above items and will go into the four types of signs typically found which are Informational, Identification, Directional, and Warning.
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You plan out your new walkway and retaining wall. You figure it will take you about two weekends to complete. You start your project. You set the grades. You dig to the depths shown on your plans. Things are just moving along perfectly. Then you receive a stop work order and are given a big fine. Next thing you know you are in the courts fighting the fine and trying to get your project started again since some of the stop work order was to revert the space back to the previous state.
Many of the Cities and Townships have requirements over and above the Ontario Building Code that require you to obtain a site plan approval and/or a building permit before starting certain types of landscape projects. Some of these permits carry fairly steep fines for breaking them. In Toronto, if you injure a tree without a permit, you can be fined up to a maximum of $100,000.00 per tree involved in the offense.
Permits are typically required for any retaining wall over 90 cm (3 feet), along with any deck 60 cm (2 feet) or more above the ground. In Hamilton, any deck over 10 square meters (90 square feet) at any height off the ground requires a permit. In Toronto, as mentioned above, any work within including access through the root zone of a tree requires a permit.
Along with the building permit requirements, most municipalities also have zoning and urban design guideline requirements. Some require a minimum 1.5 meter wide landscape buffer between hard surfaces and adjacent properties, whereas in other municipalities you can pave right to the property line.
It is worth the quick call to your local City’s building department to ask if you need any permits before starting. Some of these permits can take over a month or two to receive if it is a straight forward application to over a year or two for zoning changes. Most municipalities can typically give you a yes or no answer for permit requirements over the phone or email. If you do need a permit, a landscape architect like myself, can help you to filter through the permit application requirements and prepare the required drawings and documentations. For some projects, such retaining walls over 3 feet and high decks, a structural engineer review and approval may be required, which I can also assist you with.
So remember to check to see if your project requires a permit and always do your utilities locates before starting. http://www.on1call.com/
Have you had any horror stories dealing with the City’s By-law or Building Department? We would like to hear about them.
Beyond The POST
Happy New Year! Hope your holiday season was a great one!
As I sit and write this post, the weather outside is perfect! Gorgeously sunny, near 0°c (32°f). It is hard for me to keep my focus on work today. I keep thinking about strapping on the cross-country skis and going for a quick ski along the snow covered paths for a quick workout.
During our holiday break, I was able to head out for a two-day snowshoe hike along the Bruce Trail. As a landscape architect, I enjoy spending as much time in the landscape as possible, both urban and natural spaces. It is where I keep myself healthy: It reduces my blood pressure and stress levels. Nature provides for our needs if you know where to look. I always find hiking and being in nature recalibrating and can’t wait for the next trip!
On a recent outing, one of my great friends, Eric Chagnon of Get Outside Fitness, showed me how to use the surrounding parks and natural areas as fitness centres. There are so many great exercises one can do on a basic large rock or log, placed along or near a trail. Exercises such as step ups, planks, push ups, tricep dips, balancing and even crawling just to name a few.
There are cost advantage to using natural objects like rocks and logs in both installation and maintenance compared to manufactured equipment. The natural elements can be integrated into natural parks without looking out of place. As an added bonus, the workout stations can also double as a rest stop bench at scenic lookouts or is it the other way around? The design possibilities are endless and they can be easily placed along existing trails or designed as a part of a new trail system or addition.
As a design team, Eric and I can work with your parks facility staff, and stakeholders to design a great natural fitness trail within your park and budgets. We can design the trail for a wide variety of skill levels while engaging the whole family to improve their health, and help to increase positive users within your parks.
We look forward to the opportunity of creating a great fitness trail for your park. If you have any questions or would like to know more, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or phone 226-339-1899.
For more information about health benefits of nature see:
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I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, and questions.
Beyond The Post