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.

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.”