The government has amended plans to close much of “Instagram Pier” in Sai Wan for community garden purposes, reducing the area concerned to under 30 per cent of the pier’s total area. However, local groups have continued to question the need for a community garden.
The location, governed by the Marine Department’s Cargo Handling Section, is popular among residents, pet owners and joggers in the area. It does not currently feature any safety barriers around its perimeter.
The community garden plan was modified after public outrage and protests at the Central and Western District Council last month.
The original proposal involved granting short-term tenancies across almost 80 per cent of the berth areas to NGOs, leaving a 10 metre wide area as a promenade.
But in the latest plan given to district councillors for a meeting on Thursday, two new proposals were revealed. Both involve reducing the community garden to 2,000 square metres out of an area of some 7,500 square metres. The government will accept bids from NGOs and social enterprises.
The proposals state that bidders who operate the gardens must open them to the public for a reasonable amount of time everyday.
The first proposal suggested that bidders will operate the whole area and the promenade must be open to the public. Bidders will have to install fences, lighting and seating across the rest of the 5,500 square metre area to create the promenade.
The second plan suggested that the government would operate the promenade and install the required infrastructure.
“We hope to stress that both proposals responded to opinions from the District Council and relevant groups and individuals, so that most of the area will be open to residents, and different groups will have the opportunity to host public events for residents,” the government said in the document.
The government said it aims to accept bids in the first quarter this year and approve a three-year lease after review.
But the Protect Kennedy Town group questioned why there has to be a community garden in the first place, and an outsourcing of management.
“Outsourced companies will inevitably add commercial elements to balance the costs,” it said in a social media post. “Is [the government] aiming at creating two groups of people with different usage of the area to create conflicts?”
The group also said past surveys showed that 90 per cent of residents did not want the current pier to change.
In November last year, part of the pier was temporarily closed off to the public for a Taoist festival, with the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department as one of the supporting organisations.
The event generated large amounts of trash in the area. Angry residents initially arranged for cleanups, but – after the issue was raised at a District Council meeting last month – the rubbish was cleared.