Ontario Highways

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.

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