Whether or not a floating sauna business gets to be the newest addition to the Inner Harbour’s attractions will be debated after locals share their thoughts on Thursday.
A public hearing on Havn Sauna’s proposal will be held at Victoria’s nighttime (6:30 p.m.) council meeting on Jan. 12. The company is looking 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 the business would allow locals and visitors to engage, relax and socialize. Current plans for the facility 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 repurposed 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.
This will be the first time the proposal goes in front of the current slate of councillors. While it satisfied the last council enough to get a public hearing, former councillors noted the exterior design could use some more colour or art, while Havn said it hoped to match its design to the harbour’s aesthetic.
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.
The former council asked the applicant to ensure the structure is fully accessible for those with mobility challenges.
Information on how to participate in public hearings is available at https://bit.ly/3ZFFlV8.
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