Staying afloat: Former environmental engineer to open the first flotation centre in Halifax

Lindsay MacPhee, former environmental engineer, hopes to share the benefits of meditation through her new flotation centre.

Wires hang and pipes poke out from the unfinished ceiling. Pieces of plaster, insulation, tubes and tools are scattered around the space. Several workers tinker away in separate rooms. The space will soon become a sea of meditation and tranquility with decorations inspired by Wes Anderson. When the job is done, this will be the first flotation centre in Halifax.

An environmental engineer for five years, Lindsay MacPhee, 32, did not plan on opening her own business. However, after an environmental consulting job fell through, MacPhee decided to open her own flotation centre on King Street, in the north end of Halifax.

“It was definitely a blessing. I had known for awhile that it really wasn’t how I saw myself living my life,” says MacPhee. “I wanted to do something very fulfilling.”

What is flotation therapy?

Developed by Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954, flotation therapy is used as a form of sensory deprivation, detoxification and meditation to decrease stress and anxiety. MacPhee says flotation therapy can relieve chronic pain, such as whiplash and muscle recovery, due to the amount of magnesium sulphate in the solution.

“The health benefits are amazing,” says MacPhee.

In a flotation session, a person enters a tank filled with 10 inches of water and 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts. Denser than the Dead Sea, those who enter the tank will become buoyant and float. The temperature of the water is approximately 34.2 C, which is warmer than a public swimming pool. The tank is closed during the session to reduce sights, sounds and smells.

“When you get into that meditative state, which floating assists with, some pretty profound changes can happen,” says MacPhee.

From environmental engineer to flotation therapy

MacPhee got into floating in May 2013 in Vancouver, where she was finishing her degree in chemical and environmental engineering. She returned home to Nova Scotia six months later. Over the years, she never lost her interest in floating.

“I’ve been waiting for years for someone in Halifax to do this,” says MacPhee.

“We have such an amazing and creative community who are into meditation and the arts,” she says. “I think this can help and assist with that.”

Through the Self-Employment Benefits program and Employment Insurance, MacPhee was accepted into the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development program, which helps entrepreneurs start their own small business with government funding.

MacPhee says that the main challenge of opening her own business was having confidence and educating others about floating.

“I had lived in a world where I worked a nine-to-five job as an engineer. It was such a major shift to what I’m doing now,” she says.

MacPhee says there has been an overwhelming response to her business idea. She says she has received numerous phone calls and emails from as far as Cape Breton and New Brunswick.

“It’s been general excitement,” says MacPhee. “That provides a bit of a push. On the days that are very difficult and I’m experiencing challenges, just knowing that provides a lot of support.”

In addition to flotation sessions, the centre will have a wellness co-ordinator, who is a trained naturopathic doctor, as well as a massage therapist and dietician.

MacPhee originally hoped to open The Floatation Centre by April 1. She expects to open the centre within the next few weeks.

“If I can just help people recognize their positive potential within the universe, whether it’s enhance their creativity, to decrease their stress levels … then I think that I’m doing a pretty great job,” says MacPhee.

News Digest: March 23 – 26

Catch up on happenings on the Halifax peninsula, as reported by other news outlets.

Trouble Inmate sets herself ablaze at Truro prison (Chronicle Herald)

A women, unofficially identified as Camille Strickland-Murphy of St. John’s, set herself on fire at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro. Strickland-Murphy suffered second degree burns. In November, she was sentenced to 36 months in prison for attempted robbery and breach of probation. According to an anonymous source, the women stuffed her pant legs with paper and using a match or an outlet started the fire. Pamela Goulding, a provincial court judge, said Strickland-Murphy suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. She also has a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

Whalen on N.S budget: Prepare to ‘feel some pain’ (Chronicle Herald)

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Diana Whalen delivered a warning about the upcoming provincial budget. She said the new budget will change the way government does business, including a complete review of department and services in order to cut back. Whalen also announced that the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency would become a Crown corporation led by a private-sector board.

NSCC hikes tuition by three per cent in most programs (Metro News)

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Community College announced that it would raise 2015-16 tuition rates by three per cent for most programs. A three per cent increase, for most students, adds up to an extra $90 in annual tuition costs. Tuition costs for the following programs will not go up: recording arts, health information management, certified welding, gas technician, heavy equipment operator, process operations 4th class, and aviation programs.

Halifax company says industrial snow melters could have conquered Old Man Winter (CTV News Atlantic)

A Halifax company said it has equipment to melt snow. Trecan Combustion builds industrial sized machines to melt snow faster and more efficiently than hauling it away. After the snow is loaded, it is melted in the machine and is driven over a manhole where the water empties into a sewer. Industrial snow melters are currently used at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the Halifax Shopping Centre. Halifax Regional Municipality considered using the machines, but ultimately found that they would not be worth the time or money due to high diesel costs.

Assault charges dropped against N.S woman with brain disorder (CTV Atlantic News)

Three charges against a women with an intellectual disability have been dropped. According to police, Nichele Benn allegedly struck an employee with a foam letter and a shoe at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre on Dec. 12, 2013. The Crown decided not to proceed with charges of assault with a weapon.

Small stores stay open during storms

While many stores decided to close for the day during Sunday’s snowstorm, Jubilee Junction and Triple A convenience stores chose to stay open for those in need of supplies and snacks.

As a winter snowstorm rages and the snow continues to pile up outside, Elias Habib welcomes customers at his store in south-end Halifax.

“It’s just a regular work day,” ​said Habib, owner of Jubilee Junction, a dairy bar and convenience store on Jubilee Road.

Halifax suffered another snowstorm on Sunday, adding 15 to 30 centimetres to the remaining ice and snow from previous storms this winter. Because of the dangerous driving conditions, many businesses shut down for the day, including the Halifax Shopping Centre and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. But many small business owners like Habib chose to stay open.

Habib standing behind the counter at Jubilee Junction waiting for customers. (Photo: Teri Boates)
Habib standing behind the counter at Jubilee Junction waiting for customers. (Photo: Teri Boates)

“If you live close enough and can open, open,” he said.

Habib says that how busy his store gets during storms depends on how quickly the roads and sidewalks are cleared, and until people are able to drive safely, the store only receives foot traffic.

“You’re going to get busy from people that live right next door to you because they don’t really want to go too far, but for anybody to hop in their vehicle … if it’s not safe for them to be on the road, it’s better just to stay home,” said Habib.

Habib drives himself to work every day from his downtown Dartmouth home in a 4×4 vehicle in order to get to work on time regardless of the weather.

Also located and open on Jubilee Road is Triple A, a family-owned convenience store, pizzeria and mini-bakery frequented by students living in the nearby area who use walking as their main mode of transportation.

“We know what students go through,” said Rita Amyoony, owner of Triple A Convenience. “Most students don’t have a car, they all walk. So for them we remain open.”

Jubilee Junction open and ready for business during Halifax's snowstorm on Sunday. (Photo: Teri Boates)
Jubilee Junction open and ready for business during Halifax’s snowstorm on Sunday. (Photo: Teri Boates)

Both stores were open during their regular hours through Sunday’s storm (Jubilee Junction: 8:30am-12:00am, Triple A: 9:00am-12:00am) so that people within walking distance could purchase supplies and snack foods, a bestseller during snowstorms. “Chips and pop,” said Habib. “We sell more snacks.”

Jubilee Junction and Triple A are open every day and plan on staying open even if Halifax is hit with another major storm before the winter is over.

Amyoony recognizes that there are many students living in the neighbourhood by her store, and being the mother of four students herself, she says that she likes knowing that they are being taken care of.

As long as the students are happy and satisfied,” said Amyoony. “It’s called a convenience store, right?”

HeadsUp app wins $25,000 at Canadian Business Model Competition

An app that notifies customers of estimated arrival times, location of deliveries and late employees through text messaging won the first place prize of $25,000 at the Canadian Business Model Competition Saturday.

An application that improves communication between customers and service companies won the first place prize of $25,000 at the final round of the Canadian Business Model Competition (CBMC) at Dalhousie University Saturday.

HeadsUp notifies customers of estimated arrival times, location of deliveries, and late employees through text messaging. Developed by Michael Reid, Jeremy Tupper and Dimitry Galamiyev from the University of Waterloo, the app also allows for customers to give instant feedback to businesses the minute the employee has left their home.

“I’m super excited,” said 22-year-old Reid, the business developer of the team. “Right now we have a couple pilot projects we’re going to set up, so we’re probably going to spend the money on hiring people to help us get to where we want to be faster.”

Reid said the app would work with Google Maps to allow for a non-invasive vehicle tracking system.

Michael Reid, Jeremy Tupper, and Dimitry Galamiyev, answer questions from the judges after their presentation. (Photo by: Sydney Jones)
Michael Reid, Jeremy Tupper and Dimitry Galamiyev face the judges for questions after their presentation. (Photo: Sydney Jones)

“We’re currently working with a number of companies to put these tracking devices in the reps’ cars, and then we’re going to be sending the text messages with the ETA times as well as feedback messages to gauge responses,” he said.

In addition to the cash prize provided by Deloitte Canada, the developers of HeadsUp have qualified for a spot at the International Business Model Competition, which takes place on May 1-2 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Between 40 and 48 teams from over 30 countries are selected to compete at the international competition. This will be the second year a Canadian team has competed at the international level.

Dalhousie has been hosting the CBMC since 2013. Thomas Battle, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, said the competition has seen a dramatic increase in both quality of presentations and number of competitors since it began.

“The first year we did it we had five Dalhousie teams…last year we had 17 teams from 10 to 12 schools, and this year we have 30 teams from over 20 schools across Canada,” said Battle.

On Saturday, two other teams were awarded with cash prizes. Ourotech, a three-dimensional printer for hospitals developed by Duleek Ranatunga and Zain Roohi, won the second place prize of $15,000.

Developed by Cole Campbell and Mitchell Hollohan, Intelligent Site Innovations, which proposed an automated system to replace human flaggers on construction sites, finished in third place and was awarded a $10,000 prize.

Of the six teams that competed in the final round, only two were from universities in Nova Scotia.

North Brewing Company celebrates successful year under new name

Halifax north end brewing company works towards zero emissions plan while expanding to meet growing popularity.

Celebrating their two-year anniversary earlier this year, North Brewing Company continues to take large leaps towards making their mark on the HRM bar scene.

The microbrewery, formally known as Bridge Brewing Company, changed their name last year in order to avoid confusion with another brewery under the same name. But co-owner and founder Peter Burbridge says he likes the new name and how it represents the artistic community in which the brewery resides.

“The north end is probably the most exciting area of Halifax right now,” said Burbridge. “It’s great seeing the community grow and support new businesses. It makes for a very lively and exciting neighborhood.”

The brewery is currently in the middle of its second expansion with plans to quadruple in capacity this year.

“The first year was all about getting the brewery started and gaining followers. Our focus was mainly on building a reputation around the quality of our beer and getting people excited about it. But this year we really got to focus on our goals and the direction we want to take the future of this company, specifically our goal to create a zero emissions brewery,” said Burbridge.

In the beginning, the idea of building out a zero emissions brewery was just a pipe dream for the small microbrewery, but last year Burbridge began working with other businesses in order to achieve this goal. Although he still has no idea what the final result will look like, Burbridge and the rest of the North Brewing team are excited about their journey.

Currently the company is sourcing all their energy through Bullfrog Energy and their spent grain is used as animal feed by TapRoot Farms.

Because it can be challenging for animals to digest, their goal for this year is to transition to using their spent grain, a by-product of the brewing process, to grow mushrooms instead.

Halifax beer judge and local blogger, Jeff Pinhey, says the company largely owes its success to its focus on Belgian-style brewing. North Brewing Company is one of the very few breweries of this genre in Atlantic Canada and is the only one in Nova Scotia.

“It gives them market differentiation and allows them a fair amount of diversity,” said Pinhey.

North Brewing Company now has tap accounts at 24 restaurants and bars throughout the HRM, with plans to expand to Lunenburg and Antigonish this year.

“We’re still a really tiny company, but we’re getting bigger. And we’re excited about it,” said Burbridge.

Pinhey states that he knows more about their beers than their zero emissions plan, but jokes he hopes they “plan to continue emitting beer.”