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Floating sauna business pitched for Victoria’s Ship Point gets public hearing

Proposal looks to add to an ‘underutilized’ part of the Inner Harbour

A company wants to make its floating sauna concept a year-round draw in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Havn Sauna’s proposal is to moor a converted barge at Ship Point that would include a variety of hot and cold pools, small sauna enclosures and special-event space on the landscaped surface deck.

Havn says it wants to bring a year-round economic boost to an underutilized part of the waterfront and its facility would allow locals and visitors to engage, relax and socialize. Its current plans envision a charcoal-grey exterior on the barge with a cedar deck, landscaped with greenery and trees.

The approximately 44-metre long barge would be a re-purposed vessel and the proposal says 90 per cent of its materials would be recycled.

The plan was passed to a public hearing at the committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 29. City staff supported the proposal, saying it meets the goals of bringing vitality and tourism to Ship Point and that the floating business would provide a connection between the water and the land. It also aligns with the official community plan objective of diversifying the harbour uses, staff said.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the space would present more opportunities than just a yacht being parked at the pier.

“We’ve got a proposal that is going to serve more than one family who might be able to afford a giant yacht and come and park it in our harbour,” she said. “This is what the vision for the future of the city looks like, this is the kind of thing that I think our residents want.”

Councillors called it both an unusual and unique idea for the location. The applicant hoped to match its design to the harbour esthetic, but some councillors hoped the final exterior plans might include some more colour and eye-catching art.

The buoyant business’ washrooms, change rooms and lower deck would be accessible. But like other users that park in the harbour, the barge would drop during low tide events, meaning an onboarding ramp would be at a 30 per cent grade at those times.

Council asked the applicant to ensure the structure is fully accessible for those with mobility challenges.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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