Around 20 years ago the Ontario Government “downloaded” provincial highways to municipalities. This has created no end of confusion for travelers/tourists not familiar with an area, and even for locals themselves who don’t do a lot of driving in their own region and aren’t familiar with the myriad names and numbers used for roads/highways. This is something that needs to be changed, at the provincial level, if for no other reason than tourism: Which is a very good reason on its own. There may also be safety issues. Heck … “the environment” is a cause célèbre and people may be wasting fuel (increasing their dreaded “carbon footprint”) trying to find their way around.
What was once, as a made up example, Ontario Highway 20 became, after the download, “former Ontario Highway 20,” now known as Northumberland County Road 20. BUT, and here’s the rub, only from here to here (say 8 km) and then it changes name to Liberty Street for a 1 km stretch (on the exact same physical road) through a tiny village, then again it becomes Northumberland County Road 20 (past the village) for another 5 km until it enters Peterborough County where it becomes Peterborough County Road 18 for 3 km … until it passes through yet another tiny rural Ontario village where it becomes Vimy Road for 500 metres, then back to Peterborough County Road 18 until it hits the outskirts of the City of Peterborough (completely separate from the County of Peterborough) where it becomes Kawartha Drive for 1 km (but the locals refer to it as “The Bypass”), then it’s back to Peterborough County Road 18 until it enters the former Victoria County and becomes former Victoria County Road 12, now known as City of Kawartha Lakes Road #7. As an aside: Where’s the “city” in City of Kawartha Lakes? Good question. Many ask the same thing as they drive through 3,084 square kilometres (nearly five times the size of the City of Toronto) of wilderness and a smattering of tiny villages & towns as they remain bewildered at just where any actual “city” is among the trees.
It’s all absolutely ridiculous, and makes giving directions a nightmare, and likely causes no end of problems and confusion for tourists.
It’s also absolutely ridiculous for GPS directions:
In 300 meters turn right onto former Ontario Highway 20, Northumberland County Road 20, north to Liberty Street, Northumberland County Road 20, Peterborough County Road 18.
Countdown 8 — 7 — 6 — 5 — 4 — 3 — 2 — 1 Turn right onto former Ontario Highway 20, Northumberland County Road 20, north to Liberty Street, Northumberland County Road 20, Peterborough County Road 18.
Countdown 8 — 7 — 6 — 5 — 4 — 3 — 2 — 1 Continue north on former Ontario Highway 20, Northumberland County Road 20, north to Liberty Street, Northumberland County Road 20, Peterborough County Road 18 for 10 km to Peterborough County Road 18.to Peterborough County Road 18.
Even for someone who knows the area relatively well it can cause a sudden “What the hell way do I go? Right? Left? That sign says one road name, that sign says that road name, neither of them are what the GPS voice is telling me.” GPS says turn “right — north” but the sign there says Northumberland County Road XX South, but it is actually north (direction) but the road itself is the south end of that road, which also has five different other names.