At best, the confusion could translate into frustration, anxiety or a delayed commute.
At worst, it could lead to an accident or death.
Those were the fears coming out of Coquitlam council chambers Monday, as staff and council seem to be at loggerheads with the province in trying to provide accurate and concise signage in the area around the new Port Mann Bridge.
Specifically, council was angered by provincial rules that stipulate the use of numbers to denote highway names instead of the common names themselves: Barnet Highway being referred to as Highway 7A; Lougheed Highway appearing on signs as Highway 7; and Route 7B being used as a place name for the Mary Hill Bypass.
City officials are also adamant that the city's name be included on as many signs as possible.
"We've got to get this fixed," said Mayor Richard Stewart.
"We have to have better signage here, because otherwise we're going to end up with accidents. We're going to end up with people hurt."
Staff have made some inroads in the debate since the issue first arose, and were able to get ministry officials to include "Coquitlam" on six signs on the east side of the Port Mann Bridge.
"Staff have taken this matter as far as they can at the staff level . we've had some wins," said Bill Susak, the city's manager of engineering and public works.
"The province, however, insists that Lougheed Highway should not be called Lougheed Highway but remain as Route 7.
"It is a policy of the province, evidently."
Compounding the city's frustration is the fact that the province's regulations are being applied to city-owned roadways - all of the Barnet Highway and most of the Lougheed Highway are owned by the city.
"Lougheed Highway isn't even their highway. It's our road, but they're insisting on applying their policy to our road. And I think that's an example of really not working with the municipalities," said Coun. Selina Robinson.
The NOW attempted to contact Mary Polak, the provincial minister of transportation and infrastructure, though she did not respond to an interview request.
However, ministry spokesperson Kate Trotter explained some of the parameters of the province's sign plan in November, when the issue was first addressed at a council meeting.
"The use of the numerical reference for highways is a consistent practice used across the province and avoids inconsistencies that generate from jurisdictional boundaries and local references to areas along the highway network," Trotter said at the time.