Arts hub authority still dragging its feet over cultural green park in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 9:41pm

It was refreshing for people around the world to see that the Rio Olympics focused on global warming and environmental sustainability.

Closer to home, the harbourfront cultural green park at West Kowloon Cultural District, a mega project launched in the summer of 2011, has little to show in relation to the concept of architect Norman Foster, which was a green park of 5,000 trees for the enjoyment of locals and visitors.

Compared to the harbourfront at Tamar where trees already have a lot of foliage, the cultural district’s green park is still confined to a tree nursery and temporary boardwalk. And the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board recently announced that this green park would be further reduced in size to accommodate conventions and associated amenities. These would offset the running costs of the cultural facilities.

Hong Kong Alternatives, a citizen advocacy group, challenges Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who also chairs the board, to explain why she has not delivered on the promises she made in a letter in these columns on August 6, 2014. Is this because of bureaucratic inefficiency or has the cultural hub project been hijacked by greedy developers? The public demand for a cultural green park since the mid-2000s has been overwhelming.

The board has talked about the financial unsustainability of operating such a park. I cannot think of any country in the world that would view a park like this as a profit and loss enterprise. It is a public service that taxpayers want.

Hong Kong Alternatives has called for the park to be developed as a pseudo, semi-government agency, like other world-class green parks, for example, Central Park in New York. There are many ways to raise funds to support the annual upkeep of such facilities. Sadly, the board has overlooked the public interest.

I urge the board to get the green park under way, rather than confining it to a costly tree nursery in a small corner of the arts hub.

Ken Wai, head, Hong Kong Alternatives