In response to media enquiries today (July 20) on the usage of the Victoria Park and the construction of a new swimming pool complex, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said:
“LCSD’s park facilities are purposely designed for various leisure and sport activities, as well as for holding large-scale events, for the enjoyment of the public at large.
Situated at an easily accessible area, the Victoria Park is one of the few venues with abundant space for hosting large-scale events. Most of them are territory-wide events organised by non-profit and non-government organisations and have become popular annual events patronised by families. The Hong Kong Flower Show, the Hong Kong Marathon and the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo are some examples of these events which have drawn huge attention in the community.
Apart from the six soccer pitches and four basketball courts which are usually used for large-scale events, a large part of the Victoria Park with facilities, including the central lawn, landscaped area, children play areas, bowling greens and the South Pavilion Plaza etc. are open to the public all year round.
In handling applications for activities of non-designated use, LCSD takes into account a number of factors, including the area to be booked, the duration, purpose and nature of the activity, the benefits it may bring to the public, the inconvenience that may cause to other users and other bookings of the venue etc. Residents nearby and district council members concerned are consulted through the Home Affairs Department, and views from relevant government departments will also be sought.
The issue regarding the use of the Victoria Park for large-scale events has been thoroughly discussed at the Eastern District Council (EDC) meetings. To balance the different needs of park users, the agreed arrangement is to limit the usage of the soccer pitches of the Victoria Park for non-designated use to not more than half of the total hours available for booking in a year. At the EDC meeting held last month, LCSD’s representatives have reinstated that such arrangements would be strictly followed.
The LCSD has all along endeavoured to strike a balance among the needs from different sectors. The department has been handling the applications for non-designated use of the Victoria Park in a diligent manner. The department has rejected a number of applications while in some cases, also liaised with the applicants to reduce the booking duration and appealed to them to use other alternative venues.
Concerning the swimming pool at the Victoria Park, it has always been a popular leisure place for the public with high usage. Owing to the fact that the pool was constructed more than half a century ago, there is an obvious need for its redevelopment to upgrade the facilities in order to provide better service to the public.
On the redevelopment of the swimming pool complex, the LCSD consulted EDC in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 in relation to the location and design for the redeveloped swimming pool and received strong support from the DC members. The department also organised a public consultation session on the redevelopment project in 2009, in which positive feedback from the public had been received.
The redevelopment of the swimming pool complex has commenced in August 2009 and is expected to complete by the end of 2012. The new pool complex occupies an area of similar size as the existing one. Upon the completion of the new pool complex, the existing one will be demolished, after which a roller skating rink, a handball court and landscaped areas will be constructed at the area. In this regard, the total area for leisure and sport purposes at the Victoria Park will not decrease after the new swimming pool complex is constructed.
The LCSD understands the inconvenience that may be caused to some members of the public when large-scale activities are being held at the Victoria Park. We also appreciate the concerns some may have on the redevelopment of the swimming pool complex. The department will continue to maintain close communication with the DC, the local residents and the park users so as to strike a balance among competing needs and strive to provide quality services to the public.”
Ends/Tuesday, July 20, 2010