Victoria approves HAVN floating spa facility for Internal Harbour

Victoria’s Inner Harbor will soon be home to a floating thermal spa facility after city council unanimously approved the HAVN harbor sauna project Thursday.

The proposal to open the Nordic-style spa business aboard a barge at Ship Point first came before council in March 2022 as the proponents sought zoning amendments to allow for recreational use near Victoria’s floatplane terminal.

A rendering of the HAVN spa barge. (Havn Experiences)

The proponents promised the facility would boost the harbor region’s economy by attracting visitors year-round to Ship Point.

“Unanimous support is awesome,” HAVN owner Nicholas Joel Van Buren told CTV News on Friday. “It’s been a little nerve-wracking because we obviously made significant capital investments.”

Van Buren says the facility will include a collection of saunas, hot tubs and cold pools, built aboard a 44-metre barge that’s currently moored at Ogden Point.

“It was built by the American military in 1943,” Van Buren said of the barge.

“We tracked down some photos of it in Pearl Harbor, San Diego, and then we found it in the Broughton Archipelago, which is up off Port McNeill.”

Spa facilities would include four saunas, three hot pools, a pair of cold freshwater pools, one ocean pool, a reception area and a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for events programming and socializing. (Havn Experiences)

The HAVN owner said the facility could open within three to four months.

“We can stay here [at Ogden Point] until about the middle of April when the cruise ship season starts, so the bulk of the work needs to be done by then,” Van Buren said. “And then as soon as we’re ready, we’ll go operational.”

The proposed site in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. (Havn Experiences)

The company is still working out its pricing model for spa users, but Van Buren estimates entry will cost approximately $65 per person.

“We’re not a cheap experience,” he said. “We’re a business and we’re for-profit, but we also realize that making it as accessible to people as possible is important and we’re going to strive to do that.”

Van Buren said enrollment in the City of Victoria’s LIFE (Leisure Involvement for Everyone) program is one way the business hopes to open its services to everyone, regardless of income, especially during off-peak hours.

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