Following is a question by the Dr Hon Yiu Chung-yim and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (May 31):
Recently, some members of the public and urban planning experts have relayed to me that pier and related ancillary facilities are lacking in quite a number of places along the shore in Hong Kong, rendering people from the local communities unable to take advantage of a waterfront location. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the definition of "water-friendly" used by the authorities and the policy bureau currently in charge of the water-friendly policy;
(2) of the water-friendly facilities currently available and under planning; the policies in place to promote a water-friendly culture, and set out the relevant information one by one; the measures that the authorities have put in place to facilitate local communities' participation in the public engagement exercises when they construct water-friendly facilities and promote relevant policies;
(3) whether the authorities made reference to the experience of overseas countries or regions in the past three years in designing local water-friendly facilities and formulating relevant policies, and whether they have assessed the effectiveness of such facilities and policies; and
(4) whether the authorities will, in their studies of the construction of piers and related facilities, consider local communities' demands for water-friendly facilities, apart from taking public transport demands into consideration; of the other policies and measures in place to address local communities' demands for water-friendly facilities so as to promote a water-friendly culture?
Having consulted the Environment Bureau (ENB), the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Civil Engineering and Development Department, the Drainage Services Department (DSD), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Marine Department (MD), the Planning Department (PlanD) and the Transport Department, replies to different parts of the question are as follows:
(1), (2) and (3) As promulgated in the 2015 Policy Address, the Government would promote a water-friendly culture and activities, including exploring the feasibility of organising water sports activities in Victoria Harbour; promoting water recreational and sports activities and a water-friendly culture in Hong Kong waters beyond Victoria Harbour; continuing to identify desirable locations to build new water sports centres; as well as adopting the concept of revitalisation of water bodies in large-scale drainage improvement works and planning drainage networks for new development areas. The initiative involves a wide range of subjects under the portfolio of different bureaux and departments.
Water Quality of Victoria Harbour and Marine Safety
Stage 2A of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) has come into operation in December 2015 and the water quality in Victoria Harbour has shown marked improvement. ENB and DSD are monitoring water quality improvements upon the commissioning of HATS Stage 2A and the implementation of HATS Stage 2B will be kept under review taking into account the water quality situation and the latest technological development in biological treatment. To further improve the environment of our popular waterfront areas, the Environmental Protection Department has commissioned a consultancy study to work on practical options and a programme for tackling near-shore pollution. With the continuous improvement in the water quality of Victoria Harbour, the annual cross-harbour swim race that was suspended for years has been resumed since 2011.
To further enhance the water quality and overall environment, the Government has commenced a consultancy study in 2016 to further explore pragmatic and practical measures to ameliorate the odour and water pollution problems along some harbourfront areas of Victoria Harbour. The whole study is expected to be completed in 2018. During the course of the study, where practical solutions are available and resources permit, we will address these problems as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the completion of the study to take actions.
On individual areas, subsequent to the implementation of mitigation measures as proposed in the Approved Environmental Impact Assessment report, we have seen significant improvements with regards to the water quality and odour issues of the waterbodies of the Kai Tak Approach Channel and that between Kai Tak Runway Tip and Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter. To further improve the water quality, relevant departments will continue to review the situation with a view to rectifying existing pollution sources, and the stormwater drainage and sewage facilities in Kai Tak Development and its vicinity.
When vessel or marine facility is involved in the promotion of water-friendly culture and activities, MD will provide technical advice on the vessel or marine facility as well as their related operations to ensure marine safety.
Water Recreational and Sports Activities
In realising water-friendly culture, HAB is mainly responsible for the promotion of water sports. Apart from the construction of water sports facilities, HAB also encourages and assists in the organisation of water sports activities. LCSD currently manages five water sports centres, which offer a wide range of water sports programmes, public fun days and craft rental services for recreational and training purposes all year round. In addition, LCSD has been providing subvention to four sea activities centres run by non-government organisations. A list of water sports centres mentioned above is attached at Annex.
The Chief Executive has announced in the 2017 Policy Address that the Government would conduct technical feasibility study for the Water Sports Centre in Area 77, Tseung Kwan O in order to prepare for its future construction. If individual "national sports association" requires assistance in organising water-based competitions and activities, HAB and relevant Government departments will also provide assistance.
HAB will also provide funding as well as logistic support to "national sports associations" in organising major international water sports activities in Hong Kong. These include the revival of the annual signature local swimming event, the Harbour Race, since 2011; the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races that moved its event location to the Central Harbourfront in 2015; and the Volvo Ocean Race to be staged in the vicinity of Kai Tak Runway Park in 2018. The Volvo Ocean Race is the second biggest event in world of sailing and Hong Kong is set to host its first ever stopover of the Race. The holding of the above activities not only helps to promote water recreational and sports activities and a water-friendly culture, but also showcases the beauty of Hong Kong's Harbour.
On the other hand, LCSD started to implement a pilot scheme on angling zone in 2016. After consultation with the Harbourfront Commission (HC) and District Council concerned in 2016, a pilot scheme on angling zone was launched in the Central and Western District Promenade (Central Section) where ancillary facilities to angling was provided. Subsequently, another pilot was launched at the public pier towards the end of Tai Po Waterfront Park Promenade. Relevant angling ancillary facilities have already been opened for public use. LCSD will monitor the usage, collect users' feedback and review its effectiveness during the pilot period.
Planning and Development
The Development Bureau (DEVB) and HC strive to strengthen the policy on harbourfront planning and implementation of harbourfront enhancement initiatives within Victoria Harbour with a view to creating a vibrant, green, accessible and sustainable harbourfront. DEVB, PlanD and relevant departments are exploring the feasibility of providing water-friendly facilities through short, medium and long term planning studies and projects.
In the short run, for instance, the disused pier adjacent to the ex-fire station at the former runway (the Runway Park Pier) has been refurbished and reopened to the public with a view to improving the connectivity of harbourfront areas in the East Kowloon. In the medium term, for instance, as reported to HC earlier, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is carrying out feasibility study and assessment on marine access within the District.
With regards to long term harbourfront planning study, PlanD has put forward a two-staged Urban Design Study for the Wan Chai North and North Point Harbourfront Areas (the UDS). The UDS aims to examine how the harbourfront areas concerned could be re-defined to promote accessibility, diversity, identity and vibrancy on the land and the water, to re-connect people to the water edge. The study area encompasses about 19 hectares (ha) of land area and about 22 ha of water area. Design concepts have been developed for the five proposed character precincts. The “Water Sports & Recreation Precinct” therein is recommended to be used to bring in water sports and recreational activities on the water basin previously occupied by the ex-public cargo working area for the enjoyment of the general public. The precinct will showcase new water play concept and feature various water-related activities, as well as adopting a flexible design to allow for the hosting of water sports events.
Apart from that, the proposed boardwalk of two km underneath the Island Eastern Corridor from Oil Street in North Point to Hoi Yu Street in Quarry Bay includes four activity nodes at Oil Street, Tong Shui Road, North Point Vehicular Ferry Pier and Hoi Yu Street. In addition to a new fishing platform, the Tong Shui Road activity node would retain and refine the existing pier structure. Furthermore, a water playground is proposed at the activity node at Hoi Yu Street which would serve as one of the entrances of the boardwalk so that the public could enjoy a variety of water-friendly activities there.
Waters beyond Victor Harbour
Beyond the waters in Victoria Harbour, the Government has conducted pilot schemes to adopt the concept of revitalising water bodies by incorporating elements of greening and ecological conservation into our completed or on-going improvement works for nullahs and river channels. These have not only achieved environmental beautification, but also enhanced river biodiversity with satisfactory outcomes. DSD will apply the concept of revitalising water bodies during the implementation of large-scale drainage improvement works and drainage planning for new development areas in addition to enhancing the drainage capacity of nullahs and river channels, with a view to promoting greening, biodiversity, beautification and water-friendly activities.
(4) As announced in the 2017 Policy Agenda, the Government plans to carry out renovation projects for existing ferry piers to keep up the exterior design and facilities of the piers with the times so as to provide the public with a better waiting environment. Our preliminary plan is to renovate one ferry pier on a pilot basis, through which we may explore enhancements such as installation of facilities for passengers' convenience, exterior refurbishment and brighter lighting. Upon completion of the pilot project, we will consider renovating more ferry piers in the light of the project outcome and passengers’ feedback. We will also examine applying such new standards to newly-built ferry piers in future.
Beyond Victoria Harbour, with a view to enhancing accessibility of some remote scenic and natural heritage attractions and responding to local requests, DEVB is implementing a Pier Improvement Programme (PIP) to upgrade the structural and facility standards of a number of existing public piers at remote rural areas in phases so as to facilitate public to make outing to rural areas and meet the needs of local villagers relying on boats as their main transport mode or fishermen's operation. The first phase of the PIP will cover about 10 public piers in Sai Kung, Tai Po, Tsuen Wan, North and Island Districts.
Ends/Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00