Many communities in northern Canada do not have hazard maps to inform planning-level decisions regarding existing and proposed land use and infrastructure. Communities with this fundamental baseline information are commonly challenged to properly interpret the maps and understand their implications. We share case studies from Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut that demonstrate different approaches to community hazard mapping and underscore the degree to which their legends, definitions and symbology affect their utility for the community for which they were prepared. Community hazard mapping that culminates in division of the landscape into ranked hazard classes, without further explanation, fails to provide the communities with the guidance they commonly seek. Complex maps can alienate community members and hinder their contributions to community planning. Community hazard maps are more effective when they translate the science-based hazard into plain-language suitability and outline implications for pre-specified interests of the community. Illustrative examples, interactive presentations and/or in-person workshops can further improve the knowledge transfer from geoscientists and engineers to the community.