Why Hong Kong needs Public Boat Clubs

HK is desperately short of facilities for water-based sport and recreation

On Friday 16 December 2011, the Town Planning Board rejected the development of a marina, hotel and luxury housing on Lamma. This, despite the financial firepower from a listed company, and the employment of a senior member of the Town Planning Board and a well-known person in Hong Kong’s sailing scene. (Planning Application Y/I-LI/1). (http://www.bol-hk.com/)

The proposal from the developer who owns a few village and agriculture lots on Lamma was too far-fetched, but the large-scale marina, water sports and sailing centre captured the imagination of many and was strongly supported by the Home Affairs Bureau and Tourism Commission.

With our 1,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline, more than 250 islands and beautiful seas, Hong Kong is desperately short of facilities that allow the public to enjoy Hong Kong’s waters for leisure, recreation and sports.

People are forced to use crumbling steps to get on and off boats in hot spots such as Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay. Our few water sports and sailing centres are full. No one can afford the private marinas and their waiting lists for boat moorings are very long.

Hong Kong desperately needs public clubs where people can store and maintain boating equipment. Buses and the MTR do not welcome passengers carrying surfboards. No one has a garden or shed, or apartments big enough to store sports equipment.

The Home Affairs Bureau, which happily endorsed the destruction of Lamma, should take charge.

It has so far failed to ensure that man-made waterfronts, where there is no threat to the environment, have facilities for water-based leisure, recreation and sports. Ma On Shan, Kai Tak, Tseung Kwan O and Aberdeen/Ap Lei Chau are ideal with their road and rail access and large local populations. The opportunity for water activities on Junk Bay was identified as early as 1982.

Rather than a world-class municipal marina and sailing facilities, all that is available today in Tseung Kwan O is a small unlicensed private operator, the Hoi Fan Fishing Club, where you have to climb over fences and rocks to get onto a small rented sampan with an outboard engine.

Unless the bureau starts to care, the planned cross-bay bridge will block sail boats from using Junk Bay. And we will be able to look at the water, but not get on it and use it.

Paul Zimmerman

CEO, Designing Hong Kong Limited

South China Morning Post, Dec 20, 2011

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