A mobile sauna which has been set up on the Esquimalt Lagoon will have to move by the end of March following an ask from Colwood city staff for council to provide direction.
Since January, Wild Wood Saunas has operated a trailer-mounted wood sauna on Ocean Boulevard under a temporary use permit issued to allow the city to evaluate community interest and whether to allow the enterprise to setup more permanently.
At Monday’s (March 13) council meeting, staff asked council to provide direction on what to do next, as no expiration date for the temporary use permit had been established.
At the onset of the discussion, council raised concerns about allowing commercial enterprises on the lagoon for anything other than special events with short operating times, given the potential impact on traffic, noise and the migratory bird sanctuary which forms part of the Colwood waterfront area.
Despite this, council was nearly unanimous in praising Wild Wood Saunas for their business model and concept, and noted there had been a fair amount of positive feedback from the community, as well as some negative feedback.
After nearly an hour of debate, much of which moved away from the issue of the sauna specifically and focused more broadly on the need to decide whether any commercial enterprise should be permitted on the lagoon, council decided an end date must be set for the sauna’s temporary use permit.
The prevailing belief was that while the sauna was a good business idea for the community, Esquimalt Lagoon was simply not the right location for it.
More debate saw council go back and forth on whether the city owed it to the sauna operators to help them find a new waterfront location in the city for their sauna to setup, before ultimately unanimously passing a motion setting March 31 as the end date for the sauna’s permission to operate on the lagoon.
The larger issue of what the city’s policy should be with regards to commercial businesses operating on the lagoon outside of special events will be discussed during an April meeting of the Waterfront Stewardship Committee, which was already scheduled to discuss the topic and eventually provide a recommendation to council.
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