The first harbour steps at Victoria Harbour, together with the adjacent new promenade of some 280 metres, will be officially opened at the Wan Chai harbourfront next Friday (December 24). This will extend the continuous waterfront promenade length in Hong Kong Island North by 40 per cent to 7.4 kilometres, allowing visitors to walk along the harbourfront area from Shek Tong Tsui all the way to Fortress Hill.
This set of harbour steps will be the first fence-free stepped-down water edge design alongside Victoria Harbour, as mentioned in the Policy Address this year. Located in the Water Sports and Recreation Precinct (Phase 2), to be opened at the same time along the Wan Chai promenade, the harbour steps are fronted by a 2.5-hectare water body separated by a breakwater. The steps' position in the basin with relatively calm water flow makes them suitable for testing out a fence-free design along the waterfront. The step-like feature will let visitors get closer to the waterbody. It could also serve as a spectator stand for the public to watch competitions or performances from a short distance against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour when there are water sports activities or stage performances in the waterbody.
The Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, officiated at the completion ceremony this evening (December 17). He said that the Development Bureau has been working closely with the Harbourfront Commission in bringing water-friendly harbourfront designs to the public in a progressive manner. The previously opened fence-free breakwater in the East Coast Park Precinct (Phase 1) was well received by the public. The opening of the harbour steps this time will offer visitors a brand new harbourfront experience. It is also an important milestone in Hong Kong's harbourfront development, especially in terms of the water-land interface.
The Water Sports and Recreation Precinct (Phase 2) at Hung Hing Road, Wan Chai North, has an area of around 5 200 square metres, including an additional 280m-long promenade, extending the continuous waterfront promenade length in Hong Kong Island North to 7.4km. Under the principle of an incremental approach, the opening of the short section mimics the placement of the key piece of a puzzle, linking two existing harbourfront promenade sections at two ends and bringing about a 40 per cent increase in the continuous harbourfront promenade length.
The Chairman of the Harbourfront Commission, Mr Vincent Ng, said that the Policy Address this year anticipated the opening of 15 harbourfront projects to the public by the end of this year, while the Water Sports and Recreation Precinct (Phase 2) is the 16th venue opened during the year. The Government and the Commission have outperformed on the pledge and provided more choices to the public along the harbourfront.
The Precinct will be open to the public round the clock. In addition to lawns, outdoor tables and chairs, sunshades and children's play facilities, it will also provide a multi-functional venue for activities as well as an access ramp for boats to go up and down to the water in preparation for future water sport competitions. The design has taken into account views from water sports organisations, including those collected from users during dragon boat races, the Around the Island Race sailing event, the Optimist junior sailing race and other activities held at the Precinct in the past two years.
In addition to the above facilities, the public can also enjoy paddling within Victoria Harbour. Starting from today, 20 pedal-driven boats will be available for rent through a website (www.coralseaferryservice.com.hk), with three of them being first-of-their-kind special editions produced under the theme of Chocolate Rain by local artist Prudence Mak. The paddling campaign will be piloted for six months, and further arrangements will be made subject to the response.
To enrich visitors' experiences, Mak has also designed a series of art installations and Christmas decorations under the themes of Chocolate Rain and water sports for the venue. The most eye-catching piece is a 20m-long painting on the harbour steps, and visitors will be able to enjoy the artwork from another perspective on the harbour.
The Precinct is a pet-friendly venue where visitors are welcome to bring along their pets on leashes.
To ensure the safety of visitors on the harbour steps, buoys and ladders have been installed at the harbour steps. In addition to the general security of the Precinct, there will be specific guards dedicated to patrolling around the harbour steps on a 24-hour basis, as well as lifeguard and life-saving speedboat services during the operation hours of water sports activities. Safety notices have also been posted at different locations along the steps, with lifebuoys provided. Furthermore, the site will be temporarily closed under inclement weather conditions. On the other hand, consultants from the Civil Engineering and Development Department have completed a one-year water quality sample collection project and the preliminary findings indicate that the water quality of the harbour in the area is suitable for secondary contact recreational activities.
To test out the holding of performances and activities in the basin, water sports performances were held at the completion ceremony. A stage was also set up on the waterbody, and local singer Phil Lam and world-renowned harpist Lise Vandersmissen gave the first music performances on Victoria Harbour's floating stage.
The remaining part of the Precinct, including sites at the tip of the breakwater and that along Hung Hing Road near the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, will be opened for public use in phases by the end of 2022 after relevant works departments have released the sites for waterfront enhancement works.
The Water Sports and Recreation Precinct (Phase 2) is located between the Wan Chai North Temporary Public Transport Interchange and the Hung Hing Road Flyover. It can be accessed from Wan Chai Ferry Pier or the Wan Chai North Temporary Public Transport Interchange by walking for about 5 minutes. It can also be accessed from Exit A5 of MTR Wan Chai Station by walking for about 15 minutes via the footbridge, or from Exit C of MTR Causeway Bay Station by walking for about 9 minutes via the Canal Road West Flyover (see the Annex for the route map).
Ends/Friday, December 17, 2021
Issued at HKT 19:06