Indoor Service Animal/Pet Relief Room Opens at O'Hare International Airport

CHICAGO, October 20, 2015 - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announces the opening of an indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare International Airport.

Located past security checkpoints in the Rotunda area of Terminal 3, the room is specially designed to accommodate passengers traveling with service animals or pets. It is particularly convenient for those with layovers/connecting flights at O'Hare. It will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with disabilities because they no longer need to pass back through security to relieve their service animal.

The recently-opened indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare is located just north of the Rotunda in Terminal 3.

The room has two, 2-foot by 4-foot pet relief areas complete with artificial grass covering, miniature fire hydrants and pop-up sprinkler systems to wash away liquid waste into a drain. In addition, a mounted hose bib and reel is available for manual spraying and plastic bags are provided for clean-up. The room is enclosed, has a door with a glass pane that opens and closes automatically, and is designed for wheelchair access. The room also includes two sinks for passenger use.

"We are pleased to offer this new amenity for passengers, especially those who depend on the assistance of service animals when they travel through our airport," said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. "This is another way we are making O'Hare International Airport more accessible to the traveling public and creating a more welcoming environment for visitors to Chicago."

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

The CDA coordinated with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to ensure the room is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

"The new indoor animal relief area located in the secured terminal of O'Hare International Airport will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with service animals, particularly those with connecting flights," said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley. "This feature is another step towards our goal of making Chicago a world class accessible city for people with disabilities."

In addition to the new airside animal relief room, there are three outdoor service animal/ pet relief areas located near the lower level curb front of Terminals 1, 2 and 5. The Terminal 1 and 5 outdoor locations were opened in 2009 and the Terminal 2 location was added in 2014. Midway International Airport also has an outdoor service animal and pet relief area located near the lower level curb front at the north end of the terminal that opened in 2009.

Real grass, gravel or wood chips are used inside the fenced-in areas and plastic bags and garbage cans are provided. CDA and custodial staff monitor the areas throughout the day to ensure cleanliness.

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Icefields Parkway

One of the world’s top 5 drives

Often words like that conjure a degree of scepticism, but having driven Canada’s Icefield’s Parkway now four times, including once in winter I would agree that it is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The Icefields Parkway stretches 230 kilometres from the delightful mountain town of Jasper descending into the Rocky Mountain trench paralleling the continental divide, flanked by towering peaks and ancient glaciers, to the stunning Lake Louise.

Athabasca Falls
The first stop along the way is the Athabasca Falls. The Athabasca River carries more water than any other river in the Rockies National Park system and while not being very high at 23 metres, the falls are a magnificent spectacle by virtue of the shear volume and power of the water going over them, and well worth the short diversion. The paths are paved but a set of steps after the first viewing point limites wheelchair travellers to that viewing point only, which is unfortunate as the best viewing is from the far side of the river.

Athabasca Glacier
A major highlight of this drive is a stop at the Columbia Ice Fields and a trip onto the Athabasca Glacier aboard one of the ice explorers. The Athabasca Glacier is the most accessible glacier in North America. Despite the fact that it is retreating at the rate of five metres per year it is still a massive glacier at over six kilometres long, a kilometre wide and, at its centre over 300 metres deep. The excursion on one of the giant six wheeled purpose built Ice Explorers takes ninety minutes and takes you right onto the Athabasca Glacier and a chance to walk on this massive moving river of ice. The coaches run from mid April to mid October. Since 1991 the service has been catering for passengers with disabilities. One quarter of Brewster's Ice Explorer fleet that tour the Athabasca Glacier are extra-long, with special wheelchair lifts and can comfortably carry up to 4 wheelchairs at a time in addition to the regular 56 passenger seats. Shuttle busses that take passengers to and from the Ice Explorer are not wheelchair-equipped, so private specialty vehicles carry wheelchair passengers to the Ice Explorer. Brewster also hosts an annual training course to key staff members, for advice and instruction on accommodating physically and mentally challenged visitors. The Icefields Centre is located on the Icefields Parkway opposite the glacier. There is ample disabled parking with bays wide enough to accommodate side loading vans. Both main entrances to the Icefield Centre are equipped with automatic doors with interior and exterior sensors. The Centre has an elevator that services all four floors; the Glacier Exhibit Gallery, main floor, food floor and hotel floor. The grand view deck on the second floor has picnic tables designed for ease of seating and are also wheelchair-accessible. There are plenty of barrier-free stalls in both the women's and men's washrooms. On the ground floor and on the food floor there are 'family room' washrooms for people who need the assistance of a caregiver. All corridors and public areas are kept clear and unobstructed, and have no steps or elevation changes. All public doors are equipped with lever-type handles. Two of the hotel rooms are specially equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. All hotel rooms have two-part fire alarms that include a strobe-light alarm for the hearing impaired plus the usual siren alarm. All public areas in the Icefield Centre are non-smoking for the comfort of all visitors, and the health of those with respiratory concerns. There are no air-conditioning systems to introduce molds or bacteria; our windows really open for fresh mountain air! 

Video Clip Notes
The Canadian Paralympic Committee and gold medalist Paralympic athlete Joanne Kelly joined up
with a group of Canadian travel retailers to announce a new program that highlights Canada’s
accessible travel experiences. The “Go Canada” program. The announcement took place on the spectacular Columbia Icefield at the unveiling of a fully accessible GO CANADA branded Ice Explorer vehicle. The massive Ice Explorer vehicle is part of the Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience, which takes visitors on a remarkable 90-minute adventure onto the surface of Athabasca Glacier, and is but one example of the accessible travel experiences available in Canada.
 (Courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission)

Peyto Lake
After a day of stunning scenery and unique experiences the Icefields Parkway has one final surprise. The final must do stop on this magnificent drive is a short diversion into Peyto Lake. This lake is simply breathtaking and one of the highlights of any trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The lake was named after one of the early pioneer outfitters, “Wild Bill” Peyto. The viewing area is a short walk from the car park just over the Bow Summit, which is a high point on the Icefields Parkway. The Lake is nestled in the deep glacial valley below and affords magnificent views back to the Rocky Mountain Trench across the Emerald green of the lake.
There is accessible parking in the upper level car park. The lower level one is too far away to be negotiated using a wheelchair. From the car park there is a level paved path leading down to the observation deck overlooking the lake. The path is wide but does slope down for its entire length of approximately 100 metres. The push back is long and arduous without some assistance made harder due to the altitude. The return trip is easy with the aid of a gentle push.

The Icefields Parkway is an easy day trip, but one that will reward you with some of the most awe inspiring scenery on earth.

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Grouse Mountain, Vancouver BC

In addition to its picture perfect setting Vancouver has a stunning surprise for the visitor on its backdoor step, Grouse Mountain. In winter Grouse Mountain serves as a stunning winter playground and ski field within 20 minutes of the centre of the city, but in summer it is a great place to spend a day with a host of activities and stunning views down over downtown Vancouver and its harbour.

It is reached by the SkyRide Gondola a 12 minute ride taking you to the upper station at an elevation of 3,700 feet. To reach the lower station from Vancouver either:
Take the North Vancouver exit (right) to Marine Drive. Turn north (left) at the first intersection, Capilano Road. Stay on Capilano Road for 5km (3.1 miles) until the road ends at the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Disabled parking bays are provided in the front row of the parking area directly opposite the two ramps leading to Gondola loading station. The left hand ramp offers the shorter distance to the ticket office.
By public transportation, take the SeaBus to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Take bus #236 to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. An alternative is to take bus #246 on West Georgia St across the Lions Gate Bridge to Edgemont Village. From there, transfer to bus #232 that will take you to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. The SeaBus is accessible with rollon rolloff access and offers superb views of the city on the trip across the harbour. The return trip is well worth doing on its own. Officially it is stated in some guides that 24 hours notice is required for a wheelchair passenger, however passage is on a first come first serve basis and unless there is a large group there doesn't seem to be an issue with just showing up (and nor should there be) Access to the and from the Gondola is easy and level and access to the amenities building adjacent to the top station is via gently sloping ramps.

Once on the top there is plenty to do and all of the attractions are included in the price of your SkyRide ticket, excluding the franchised operations such as the paragliding. The wood carvings are amazing, as is the Birds in Motion display. For a bit of fun the Lumberjack Show provides an action packed and humorous 45 minutes of entertainment.
The must see while you are on the mountain are the two orphaned Grizzly Bears, Grinda and Coola now living in the sanctuary at the top of the mountain. The best viewing area from a wheelchair is from the bridge over the river at the Grizzly Bear enclosure. Their respective stories are reprinted below.
Back at the main building the theatre in the sky offers two presentations. At the top of every hour is Born to Fly which takes visitors on a dramatic aerial adventure through an eagle’s perspective, exploring four-seasons of scenery, recreation, travel and the natural wonders of Canada’s pacific province, British Columbia. This presentation in particular will leave you breathless. At the bottom of the hour, watch Discovery Channel’s Animal Tracks: Baby Grizzlies. The feature tells the story of Grinder and Coola and follows their journey to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. Smooth and well graded paths lead between all of these attractions, and ample room to view the Lumberjack Show and Birds in motion.

If you are in Vancouver and you strike a clear day a trip up Grouse Mountain is well worth the effort. Allow yourself plenty of time as time does get away if the weather is good. While nearly all of the activities are accessible the final chairlift to the top of the mountain is not nor is the ziplining. The BBQ cafe located near the Birds in Motion display does not have a ramped access to the BBQ deck.

The Story of Grinder and Coola - Courtesy Grouse Mountain


Grinder was found orphaned June 5, 2001 in Invermere, British Columbia. He was wandering alone on a logging road, dehydrated, thin, weak and weighing only 4.5 kg. His mother was never found so how he came to be alone is unknown.
Grinder is a very outgoing, high-spirited bear. He is usually the first to investigate anything new and explore the unknown. He has established himself as the dominant bear, despite his smaller size, and he often shows much more 'attitude' than Coola. He is usually the one to initiate the bouts of wrestling and play fighting.
Careful observation has revealed that Grinder predominantly favours the use of his right paw for grasping and manipulating objects. This would make him right-handed (or is it right-pawed?). Although he does enjoy swimming in the pond, he does this much less frequently than Coola. One of his favourite pastimes is people-watching and he can usually be seen scrutinizing our visitors.


Coola was found orphaned at the side of the highway on June 29, 2001 near Bella Coola, British Columbia. His mother had been hit and killed by a truck. Of her three cubs, Coola was the only one to survive. One cub was hit by a falling tree and the other ran away and was not seen again.

Coola is a very easy-going bear with a cautious and careful disposition. He is quite introverted and seems content to let Grinder take the lead in new discoveries.

He shows a definite preference for swimming and aquatic games and can most often be found submerged up to his neck in the large pond. He likes to keep his 'bath toys' on the bottom of the pond and can be seen carefully feeling around underwater for them. These usually consist of a large bone, a favourite rock and a log. He brings these up for playing and will hold, throw and balance them on the top of his head for entertainment. None of these toys are ever found away from the pond. We believe he may be keeping them underwater to hide them from Grinder.

He favours the use of his left paw for holding and manipulating objects. This indicates that he is most likely left-handed (pawed). His bed-making abilities are outstanding and the previous two year's hibernation beds were assembled entirely by Coola. He dragged in large branches and rearranged them until the den was lined with a comfy 2ft deep mattress.

His voice is a very deep baritone but he seldom vocalizes it. He can only be heard during the occasional argument with Grinder.

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Peak to Peak Gondola

The Whistler Blackcomb Mountain (WB) Peak to Peak Gondola is wheelchair accessible during the Summer Months and Winter with a new Sled to transport you to the Blackcomb Lodge at top during the snow season. Accessibility is an important feature of Whistler Blackcomb’s landmark project and Canada’s newest tourism icon.

The Peak to Peak Gondola breaks World Records
Spanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the new world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is a breathtaking, 4.4-kilometre journey. The Peak to Peak was built to open this majestic alpine region to summer visitors. The journey between the two Mountains provides a 360-degree window into Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine environment, its surrounding peaks, changing seasons and wildlife habitat. The Peak to Peak has broken three world records.
Longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometres
Highest lift of its kind at 436 metres above the valley floor
Completes the longest continuous lift system on the globe

Access Via the Village Gondola
Access to the Peak to Peak is via the Village Gondola. The Village Gondola can accommodate a person in a wheel chair, with accompanying party members. Guests can ride to the top of Whistler on the gondola and easily access the Roundhouse Restaurant, through a wheelchair accessible door. Wheelchair accessible washrooms and Pika's Restaurant are located on the first floor. An elevator exists to take you to the upper floor of the Roundhouse Restaurant and to Steep's Grill. From the roundhouse it is a flat path around to the Peak to Peak Gondola with a wide entry door and level loading into the Gondola.

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