17 July 2019
The Cadogan Street Temporary Garden has been there for 18 years, and now the government wants to tear it down, ignoring neighboring residents' pleas not to do so. Photo: Wikimedia
The Cadogan Street Temporary Garden has been there for 18 years, and now the government wants to tear it down, ignoring neighboring residents' pleas not to do so. Photo: Wikimedia

Govt turning a deaf ear to citizens

I’ve been living in Kennedy Town for nearly 10 years.

I like it because it’s quiet and away from the noisy central districts.

However, the government is destroying the peaceful life here.

After requisitioning the former sites of an incinerator, slaughterhouses and other facilities, the government is trying to demolish the Cadogan Street Temporary Garden for its new redevelopment plan for Kennedy Town West.

Demolition and ground decontamination works will take seven years to complete.

People in this neighborhood have submitted a petition to the government to preserve the garden.

However, officials at all levels pretended not to hear the voice of the people.

I found the reasons put forward by the residents to be reasonable. 

1. The site of the garden is marked as “open space”. There’s no plan in official documents for its further use. So why are the authorities rushing to apply for funding to demolish the garden?

2. The average public space for residents in Kennedy Town is only 0.77 square meter per person, while the standard should be 2 sq meters.

Although the officials said there will be a waterfront promenade, the demolishment and ground decontamination works would take time, and average public space would decrease to 0.68 sq meter during those seven years.

3. A proposal to allow the construction of private residences is pending approval by the Town Planning Board.

If the proposal is passed, about 10,000 more people will move into this district, putting heavier pressure on its already fully loaded traffic system. But the government refused to respond to this concern.

4. Will the ground decontamination works involve using toxic materials? How to guarantee there will be no health risks for the residents?

5. The concern group collected nearly 2,000 signatures from people who want to save the garden. (Here’s the website that’s collecting the signatures.) However, the government replied that the garden is meant to be temporary and that it is entitled to change its use.

From a humane perspective, while it is true that the garden is named “temporary”, it has existed temporarily for 18 years.

People have become attached to this place, especially the elderly.

Other recreational facilities are either too far away or built on a slope. It’s inconvenient for gray-haired citizens, and they can’t possibly wait seven years longer.

In addition, citizens might not be able to genuinely enjoy the planned recreation facilities.

For instance, there is substantial space reserved for cafés, restaurants and bars at the future waterfront promenade.

How can that compare to a garden with free admission?

I feel heartbroken that we have got to fight for reasonable open space, including those elderly people, who should be enjoying such humble necessities of life instead of having to come forward to fight for them.

I am filled with anger at the attitude and responses of the government.

Although it always claims that “people’s livelihood is no small matter”, I think the reality is it thinks “people’s livelihood is no matter”.

Man Ching wrote this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 22.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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