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Kai Tak Fantasy – an extraordinary recreational landmark (23/6/2013)

The Kai Tak Fantasy, a recreational landmark proposed in the Policy Address is about to become a reality. In our quest for more creative and imaginative designs, we announced a few days ago a two-month public engagement on the Kai Tak Fantasy – the International Ideas Competition on Urban Planning and Design – to solicit public views on the technical arrangements and design requirements of the competition. We hope that the Kai Tak Fantasy, with some 80 hectares of land and water body, will not only turn into a traditional entertainment theme park, but will become a world class tourism and entertainment hub that will facilitate the transformation of Kowloon East and boost the economic development of Hong Kong. The competition is open to both international and local professionals such as planners, urban designers, architects, engineers, landscape architects and surveyors, and their unique and innovative designs proposed in the competition will be used for our reference and adoption.

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Let’s learn and make progress together (16/6/2013)

The Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) announced its Annual Awards 2012 late last month,and colleagues of the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) have won the Medal of the Year of Hong Kong with the project of Columbarium and Garden of Remembrance at Kiu Tau Road, Wo Hop Shek. Let’s pay tribute to them for their remarkable achievements. As the community aspires to a better living environment, ArchSD will endeavour to address the needs of different sectors of the community in the planning, construction, monitoring and maintenance of public buildings and community facilities. ArchSD last year established the Knowledge Management System, which is designed to let colleagues share details of successful projects as well as the difficulties they encountered in daily work and their experience in overcoming them. Not only can colleagues share information through the database, but the department can also learn from the past and make improvements. For instance, the work experience in the discovery of Legionella bacteria at the Tamar Development Project in 2011 and the handling of the leakage problem of the newly opened Kai Tak Cruise Terminal during a black rainstorm are both worth recording. Besides promoting experience sharing among its staff, ArchSD also formed the ArchSD Class early this year to pass on knowledge gained from work. Our colleagues will use their valuable work experience in design and project management as teaching material and share it in a series of classes with specific topics. The classes do not take place only at the office, as our colleagues voluntarily visit projects of ArchSD or other organisations on weekends or holidays to put into practice the theories learnt in classes.

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Be our Greening Partners (9/6/2013)

In recent years, members of the public have taken the initiative to report to us probable tree problems in their community and they want us to take swift action. To carry out tree risk management effectively and to establish a database, we are conducting a roadside tree survey in the 18 districts across the territory. So far, we have completed the survey in seven districts, namely Wan Chai District, Central and Western District, Southern District, Eastern District, Yau Tsim Mong District, Kwun Tong District and Sham Shui Po District.A total of 300 problem trees have been identified and referred to the relevant departments for follow-up action. Of the 1 100 square kilometres of land area in Hong Kong, 67 per cent is woodland, scrubland and grassland located mainly in the country parks. We strive to enhance the quality of our living environment by carrying out greening work as well as managing and preserving trees and plants properly. In addition, we extend the urban green belts, beautify the existing green areas, and improve the opportunities for quality greening in the planning and development of public works projects. To further promote greening, we encourage the general public and the private sector to participate in our work on greening, landscaping and tree management with particular emphasis on public education and community engagement. The “Be Our Greening Partner” Campaign, which is our major promotional project this year, aims to encourage organisations and individuals to sign up to the Greening Partner Charter and commit themselves to the common goal of promoting a quality green environment and tree management in Hong Kong. Through a series of activities including talks on community tree surveillance, seminars on landscape design, tree appreciation tours and guided tours of Old and Valuable Trees, the community will develop a caring attitude towards our rich greenery and have a better knowledge of tree management. In recent years, we have taken forward our district greening work systematically through the implementation of Greening Master Plans.

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Remain vigilant and be ready to take up challenges (2/6/2013)

The Black Rainstorm Signal issued on May 22 this year had the second longest duration ever recorded in Hong Kong. We were fortunate that severe regional flooding did not occur thanks to the remarkable results of the territory-wide flood prevention projects of the Drainage Services Department (DSD) over the past 10 years or so. I happened to visit the DSD two days later as previously arranged. Using this Black Rainstorm Signal that lasted five and a half hours as an example, let me briefly explain how the DSD addresses the flooding problems caused by sudden rainstorms, especially the way it tackled the flooding at Tin Sam Village in Yuen Long and the Kwun Tong Road Underpass. In the early hours that day, 25 DSD colleagues on duty quickly headed for the emergency control centre in Cheung Sha Wan in torrential rain once they had been notified of the Red Rainstorm Signal. A working team of the DSD swiftly arrived at Tin Sam Village in Yuen Long to alleviate the flooding problem at 2.15am, more than two hours before the issuance of the Black Rainstorm Signal. Its early arrival was made possible by the DSD’s initiative of stationing a number of working teams at its regional offices across the territory during heavy rainstorms, so that they can inspect the drains and clear blockages immediately after reports of flooding are received to prevent problems from deteriorating. The emergency control centre, which was activated shortly after the Black Rainstorm Signal had been issued, is mainly responsible for co-ordinating contractors and instructing them to allocate resources to clear blocked drains quickly in flooded areas, thereby minimising inconvenience to the public. While all the rainstorm warning signals were cancelled by 10.30am, the emergency control centre remained in operation till 6pm to handle and monitor all the flooding cases until they were all resolved.

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Grasp the opportunity to develop Tung Chung (26/5/2013)

With a number of large-scale infrastructure projects near Tung Chung to be completed soon, there is potential to develop Tung Chung into an attractive regional commercial and tourism node and bring more jobs to the local community given its strategic location. We have recently announced the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study Stage 2 Public Engagement (PE) in order to grasp the above opportunity by extending Tung Chung to its east and west. The initial land use options are as follows: (1) For Tung Chung West, the theme of “Development and Conservation - A Balance” is proposed. We will make use of the fallow agricultural land with limited reclamation in the vicinity of Tung Chung Bay (with a maximum of 14 hectares) to provide additional housing land while preserving and enhancing the distinctive characteristics and historic landscape of the rural area. (2) For Tung Chung East, reclamation will be limited to approximately 120 hectares at the west of Tai Ho Wan. There are two suggested land use themes: Theme 1 is the option of “Livable Town”, which is to house more population through higher development densities around a proposed MTR station, while Theme 2 is the option of “Economic Vibrancy”, which is to create a regional commercial hub in Tung Chung alongside housing supply. During the Stage 1 PE exercise, the public generally agreed that Tung Chung has potential to be further developed. However, if we exclude the option of reclamation, the development potential of Tung Chung West will be severely limited. Over the past 10 years or so, the development of Tung Chung has always been described as “as slow as a snail”. Many local residents are dissatisfied with the transportation, job opportunities and community facilities in the district. With the proposed Tung Chung extension, we hope that Tung Chung can be developed into a better new town. For Tung Chung East, the “Livable Town” option is based on a transport-oriented development concept to increase the development intensity of residential areas within a 500-metre walking distance from the proposed Tung Chung East MTR Station, and the area next to the station will be developed into a Metro Core Area with mixed residential and commercial uses. For the “Economic Vibrancy” option, it will provide about 450 000 square metres of floor area for office, regional retail and hotel uses. A 350-berth marina is also planned for the south-eastern edge of the area and another parcel of land at the northern side of the proposed reclamation will be identified for provision of waterfront dining and retail facilities. The “Livable Town” and "Economic Vibrancy” options will provide 38 000 and 33 000 residential flats with planned populations of 111 000 and 95 000 respectively. The development density of Tung Chung West is relatively lower in order to strike a balance between development and conservation. The scale of reclamation will be significantly reduced to avoid mudflats and mangroves. Higher density developments are proposed for the southern part along Tai Chung Road with the backdrop of Tai Tung Shan. Developments intensity near the village clusters and areas near the Tung Chung River estuary will be lower. These areas will provide about 15 000 residential flats in total with a planned population of 43 000. There will also be commercial areas, waterfront promenades and government, institution and community facilities in Tung Chung West. We will try to seek a balanced mix of public and private housing for the whole Tung Chung extension under study to create a harmonious community.

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