Floating Nordic-style sauna facility proposed for Victoria's Inner Harbour
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published March 14, 2022
A floating Nordic-style sauna and wellness facility has been proposed for Ship Point along the banks of the Inner Harbour, according to an application filed with the City of Victoria.
Dubbed Havn, the concept from proponent Varm Experiences Ltd. in association with Havn Experiences Ltd. hopes to situate a 144 foot long vessel at Ship Point at the foot of Wharf Street near the lower causeway, which will serve as an “immersive experience” destination designed to “connect users with themselves, each other and their city,” Varm states in its supporting documents.
Havn is envisioned with four saunas, three hot pools, two freshwater cold pools, and one ocean water pool, along with indoor and outdoor spaces for relaxation and socializing. Flex layouts will permit use for special events, music performances and speakers.
“HAVN aims to connect its visitors with the sea, one of Victoria’s most precious natural resources,” the application document says. “Not only is the space itself designed to encompass sweeping views of the Inner Harbour’s most iconic sites, but filtered and recirculated seawater features on board allow patrons to connect and engage directly with the Pacific Ocean.”
|An exterior rendering of Havn, a floating sauna and wellness facility proposed for Victoria's Ship Point along Wharf Street. Havn Experiences Ltd. |
Inspiration for the idea comes from numerous existing floating structures similar in design and function as Havn, the proponents say, including projects in Oslo (Norway), Montreal and Helsinki (Finland) already operating on the waterfronts of their respective cities.
“Harbourside saunas have proven to be a successful means of revitalizing waterfronts around the world. They are also often paired to prolific effect with music, art expos, restaurants, cultural activities, and rest and relaxation, providing ample opportunities for patrons to enjoy the harbours and waterfronts on which they are situated,” Varm’s application claims. “In Canada, saunas are seeing a surge in popularity as a health and wellness activity for physical, mental, and social well-being. In an age of increasingly digital existence, hydrotherapy is emerging across the country as a healthy way to bring people together in a uniquely non-digital space.”
Cited as an opportunity for economic activity in a post-COVID Victoria economy, and with opportunities to add vibrancy to the harbour of the downtown core, Havn is pitched by applicants as a proposal in-step with the City’s official community plan, city hall's stated goals for economic development and beautification of Ship Point, and Victoria’s ‘3.0 Recovery Plan’ seeking to promote economic opportunities for local small businesses.
Although technically within the operational oversight of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Ship Point's municipal zoning does not currently permit floating sauna as a use, requiring the City to approve a zoning change, in addition to permission for operations by the harbour authority. C
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