Hong Kong government pushes for wider harbourfront boardwalk

Proposal follows calls from public for more space but some question if move will violate law safeguarding harbour from reclamation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 10:53pm

The authorities have proposed a wider harbourfront boardwalk linking North Point to Quarry Bay to satisfy public demands for more space, as well as to attract cyclists and anglers, a document submitted to the Harbourfront Commission showed.

The original proposal for building the 2km boardwalk beneath the Island Eastern Corridor, which would include a pedestrian walkway, a cycling track, a fishing platform and food kiosks, was put forth during a public consultation earlier this year.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department now suggests extending the boardwalk by 2.5 metres to 10 metres after gathering feedback from the public who called for more space, according to the document. “They demanded a wider boardwalk in order to ... ensure proper and conflict-free enjoyment of the harbour by [both pedestrians and cyclists],” the Department wrote.

Urban planners want harbourfront markets and cafes, not cookie-cutter development

During a Harbourfront Commission meeting yesterday, some members called for the government to clarify whether the deck and floating structures, which would cover over 13,550 sq m of a water strip along Victoria Harbour, would pose legal implications. The Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, which preserves the harbour from reclamation, can be rebutted if there is a proven “overriding public need for reclamation”.

“I believe the first public engagement has demonstrated there’s a very strong public support for the plan, which hasn’t been shown before,” Ivan Ho Man-yiu, a member of the task force on harbourfront developments for Hong Kong Island, said.

Ho, however, added that the detailed design plans will still need to prove that it would have minimal effect on the harbour and only to a necessary extent.

Out of 1,306 questionnaires, the Department said the majority of the general public agreed there was a “compelling and present need” for the boardwalk, and the plans would be compliant with the ordinance’s requirements.

Most members urged the government to carry out construction as soon as possible. “We hope [the project] can proceed as soon as possible ... we’ve been talking about this for 10 years,” Ho said.

No completion date has been set yet, while a second public consultation will be conducted from late next month to January on the refined plan.

Members also endorsed a plan to review a government pilot plan to build a HK$2 million fishing zone along a promenade in Central by the end of next year. The trial scheme, first raised by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his policy address last year, is set to open to the public next March after works begin next month.

Members said the review would look into whether the fishing zone, with facilities such as fishing rod holders, benches and storage racks, would really benefit anglers, and whether the plan could be extended to other harbourfront areas.