The Harbourfront Commission brought together experts from world-renowned waterfront cities at the Symposium on Harbourfront Development held today (October 4) to share their views on opportunities and challenges in pursuing harbourfront enhancement and their experiences of implementing signature waterfront projects.
Under the theme "Unleashing the Potential of the Waterfront", the Symposium was officiated by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang. Speakers included the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, and overseas leaders and experts from Auckland, Singapore, Sydney and Vancouver. Some 600 participants attended the event.
In his presentation on the Hong Kong story on harbourfront development, the Secretary for Development announced the launching of the Phase 1 Public Engagement (PE) Exercise for the proposed establishment of a Harbourfront Authority to seek views from members of the public.
"Victoria Harbour is the icon of the city and the harbourfront is an important public asset. The Government is firmly committed to enhancing the harbourfront for our community. The Development Bureau will provide full support to the Commission in conducting the public engagement exercise for the proposed establishment of a Harbourfront Authority. In the Policy Address announced earlier this year, the Chief Executive said if the proposal is supported by the public, the Government will take forward the legislative work and provide financial support. This will be a key milestone to create a Victoria harbourfront for the people," Mr Chan said.
In the press conference held after the Symposium, the Commission elaborated on the background of the proposal and the details of the PE exercise.
"It is the common vision of the Commission and the Government to create an attractive, vibrant, accessible and sustainable harbourfront for the public to enjoy," the Chairman of the Commission, Mr Nicholas Brooke, said.
"Over the past nine years, the former Harbour-front Enhancement Committee (HEC) and the Commission have played an advocacy, oversight and advisory role in enhancing harbourfront areas and facilities. Our experience over that period has shown that despite the progress that we have made to enhance the harbourfront, to achieve our vision, the harbourfront needs to be developed, designed, overseen, maintained and managed in a holistic manner. This is beyond what the current government build-and-operate approach might deliver.
"In this regard, we have in the past few years studied overseas waterfront management models and local examples of public bodies. The Commission considers it desirable to establish a dedicated statutory authority, which should be visionary, mission-driven and able to combine advocacy with execution, to develop and manage the harbourfront in a holistic manner with a creative and innovative mindset and flexible framework.
"The harbourfront is built for the people and our future generations. It is essential to have the support of the public for the Commission and the Government to take forward the proposal. We are happy and ready to listen to the views of the public through the public engagement exercise," Mr Brooke added.
At the press conference, Chairman of the Commission's Core Group for Public Engagement, Mr Vincent Ng, said that the PE exercise would be conducted in two phases, and the Phase 1 PE launched today would last for three months till January 4, 2014.
"The main objective is to understand the public's aspirations towards the Victoria harbourfront; whether the existing harbourfront development and management model could meet their aspirations; whether a dedicated Harbourfront Authority should be set up to bridge the gaps of the existing model; and, if the public agrees that a Harbourfront Authority is required, which model is more suitable for Hong Kong.
"While possible models are put forth in the consultation digest to provide a basis for public discussion, these are not final options. We do not have a predetermined position in the PE exercise. We hope to follow our long-established public participatory approach and engage the public through an interactive process, inviting the public to express their views and providing a platform for public discussion. If there is general agreement that a Harbourfront Authority should be established, we will consolidate public views on its mode of operation for more focused discussion regarding its detailed framework in the Phase 2 PE," Mr Ng said.
Members of the public are invited to express their views through various channels. The Commission will also organise public forums and workshops to interact with the public and stakeholders. For further details, please refer to the following website: www.hfc.org.hk/hape.
Ends/Friday, October 4, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:18
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