The beautiful Victoria Harbour is an unique icon of Hong Kong. From the Central Harbourfront, we can see the stunning view of ferries passing by, which is set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s towering skyline and beautiful ridgelines, with the Peak and the Lion Rock overlooking each other on both sides of the harbour. In recent years, much vibrancy has been added to the Central Harbourfront, examples include the green lawn of Tamar Park and the various events that attracted both local residents and tourists, to name a few. Our harbour has been cherished by Hong Kong as a precious asset. It is our aspiration to enhance the harbourfront areas and achieve the common vision of creating an attractive, vibrant, accessible and sustainable world-class harbourfront.
Recently, I had invited some kindergarten children and their parents to go for a ride on the Observation Wheel at the Central Harbourfront. I also invited Mr Nicholas BROOKE, Chairman of the Harbourfront Commission, to share about his vision of our harbourfront development.
Splendid views of Victoria Harbour
The Hong Kong Observation Wheel has accumulated a patronage of more than 500 000 in a few months’ time ever since its reopening in end 2017. Together with Mr LIU Chun-san, the Under Secretary for Development and Mr Allen FUNG, the Political Assistant to Secretary for Development, I invited children and parents from a Po Leung Kuk kindergarten to take a ride on the big wheel before having tea and spending a happy afternoon together. For many of them, it was their first time ever on this Observation Wheel. As the gondola gently rose, the thrilled children got more and more excited. They had a whale of a time, sometimes pointing excitedly to the Kowloon side and sometimes looking in amazement at the Island side, naming quite a few iconic buildings on both sides of the harbour.
Taking forward harbourfront enhancement initiatives
It is important that we could take forward harbourfront enhancement initiatives so as to enable both locals and tourists to come closer to the harbour to enjoy its view and the harbourfront open space. At present, the Government works in partnership with the Harbourfront Commission in implementing numerous harbourfront enhancement initiatives. One of our key initiatives is to enhance the new Central Harbourfront where the big wheel is located. We have been taking forward enhancement work there in phases since part of the land is still required for the on-going construction work of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and Shatin to Central Link. With the gradual completion of these works, we would actively take forward construction of an advance promenade which will run from the existing Central and Western District Promenade (Central Section) to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in the coming future, with a view to enhancing pedestrian connectivity from the Central Harbourfront to the HKCEC. In the future, the entire New Central Harbourfront will cover a total area of 20 hectares, which is as big as the Victoria Park.
Moreover, resources have been earmarked to take forward a few other harbourfront enhancement initiatives. Upon completion of these projects, there will be an addition of almost 50 hectares of open space at the waterfront and about an extra 3 400 metres of connected waterfront promenades along both sides of the harbour. We will continue to plan and take forward the development of other harbourfront areas.
Connecting the harbourfront to the community
Established in July 2010, the Harbourfront Commission has been taking on the role of an overarching, high-level champion for harbourfront issues to ensure that design, development and management are effectively integrated. Recently, I had strolled along the Central and Western District Promenade with Mr Nicholas BROOKE and we exchanged our views on harbourfront development. Mr BROOKE said that his most memorable moment was seeing people enjoying themselves by participating in the activities at the harbourfront and appreciating the area, which has linked up the harbourfront with the community. All along, the Government has been implementing quick-win projects to enhance the harbour and the result is satisfactory, so we will do more in this aspect.
On weekdays, many office workers like to stroll or run along the Central and Admiralty harbourfront to enjoy the sea breeze or have a picnic on the lawn. Mr BROOKE believes that the Victoria Harbour symbolises the past, the present and the future of Hong Kong, so it is very much about the history of the city, much about today and the vision we strive to achieve in future. He believes that future harbourfront projects should be even more people-oriented and priority should be placed on how to enable people to better enjoy the harbourfront. I agree with him that the harbourfront represents a wonderful opportunity that Hong Kong should seize, so it is quintessential for us, and in fact, we have an undeniable responsibility in taking forward harbourfront enhancement initiatives.
Improving accessibility of the harbourfront
Both Mr BROOKE and I believe that it is crucial to improve accessibility to let people to get closer to the waterfront. Our common vision is to improve connectivity between the hinterland and the waterfront, link up spaces so as to bring people from the city centre to the harbour and provide ample open space for the public. Meanwhile, diversified elements should be incorporated at the waterfront for public enjoyment, making the harbourfront more attractive and vibrant at any time of the day or night. A good example is Tamar Park which provides easy access for locals and tourists between Admiralty and the Central harbourfront which offers, at the same time, a swathe of open space for recreational activities.
The popular Observation Wheel
Mr BROOKE said that every time he has friends and relatives coming to Hong Kong, he will take them up to the wheel because it will show them a new dimension of Hong Kong, particularly the beautiful view of the harbour. Although the wheel is not a permanent fixture, Mr BROOKE believes that people have become very attached to it, so we should consider whether to retain the attraction or move it to other location. In this regard, we could take a serious look at the related issues in the future.
We will study carefully and identify suitable harbourfront sites for non-governmental organisations to operate community facilities or organise community events, thereby enhancing the management and usage of the harbourfront areas. The Government will continue to take note of Hong Kong people’s views on the various harbourfront initiatives and work in partnership with the Harbourfront Commission to take forward harbourfront enhancement initiatives. I very much hope to join hands with different sectors of the community to create a harbourfront that we can all take pride in, and provide more good places for people to go for leisure activities.
25 March, 2018Back