Sauna’s in limbo

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Replacements or repairs, to be decided to next year

Imagine how weird getting this photo was…don’t ask. / Michael Chmielewski

Imagine how weird getting this photo was…don’t ask. / Michael Chmielewski

The sauna in the men’s change room at the Health and Fitness Centre has been out of commission since this summer, causing confusion among the student body, who have received no official communication on the matter.

Regular sauna use is said to have a positive effect on symptoms of depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as reduce the activity of stress hormones. As a result, the old facility was popular among students, faculty, and members of the community making use of the Fitness Centre.

Alex Buehler of Campus Planning and Design cleared up some confusion surrounding the renovation. There is no budget set for the renovations.

Buehler says, “The project to replace the men’s sauna is still in the planning phase and a budget is yet to be determined.”

While the men’s sauna is being replaced, it remains to be seen if the women’s room will enjoy a similar fate.

“We are currently reviewing the condition of the women’s sauna to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced.”

Over time, it was decided that the men’s change room would be easier to convert into a steam sauna than continue to regularly replace boards under the current design.

Students looking to get a steam in before the new year will be out of luck, Buehler explained.

“The project schedule is not yet finalized. We are currently working on the following preliminary time line: completion of the construction drawings and then getting pricing through a formal tender process will take us to the end of December. If pricing comes in within budget, we are expecting to start construction sometime early in the new year.”

Chris Wermie, facilities coordinator at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, explained why the sauna is being renovated.

“The wood used inside the sauna was constantly wearing down and rotting – wood and moisture is not a good mix. The sauna was being replaced far too often to continue, and the cost to replace with a steam room made a lot more sense financially.”

It seems to be a distinct possibility that the women’s’ sauna will be renovated, beyond the current review there are no concrete plans to do so. If the women’s’ sauna is the same age as the men’s and of the same make, it seems reasonable that it could be due to degrade in the same manner.

Many students used the sauna to relieve the stress, which comes with attending a post-secondary institution; ideally the University administration will provide an alternative – at least for final exam season.

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