Technically, access to the Western District Public Cargo Working Area is restricted to people moving stuff on and off boats. In practice, it has become an unofficial waterfront park, and since a visit three years ago, it has become a Sunday magnet for cyclists, photographers, picnickers, joggers, fishers and kite-fliers. A petrified Security Mouse offers warning letters to anyone polite enough to take them. (One of the cool things about the place: it is, by barrier-infested Hong Kong standards, slightly dangerous.)
The Marine Department is abandoning three berths at the western end of the wharf. The site would be ideal for luxury apartments aimed at money-launderers, but owing to some horrendous bureaucratic blunder, it might end up as some sort of open space for residents.
Central & Western District Council feel the need to suggest something inane, derivative, inappropriate and unwanted. After considering a New Ferris Wheel, a Food Truck Hub, an E-Car Race Track and Olde Towne Themed Concept Tourist Authentic Attraction Zone, they are apparently proposing a ‘community garden’. By which they mean citizens’ cabbage patches.
Obviously, we all like the organic urban rooftop farm thing. You can rent little plots to grow veg in the New Territories, and such a facility already exists nearby next to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park – and very thrilling and exciting it is, too. But do we need more of this on the waterfront, given that it will be fenced off? (And, I would add, the wharf is totally devoid of soil, but what do I know?)
In fact, the 72,000 sq m is big enough to accommodate some carrots if necessary. But it could have much else besides. So the admirably tactful activists are coming to the rescue.
On Sunday, they gathered on the spot to share helpful and constructive ideas that might gently persuade the District Council and government cretins not to screw the place up entirely.
Some of their suggestions are obvious (seating, shade, drinking fountain, ice-cream kiosk), but presumably the idea is to lure the officials into believing they have produced the ideas themselves. Others are a matter of taste, like an amphitheatre or outdoor cinema. The dog worshipers have to turn up in large numbers. Most right-thinking people sense that dogs are to parks what cars are to narrow streets – obnoxious annoyances imposed on the innocent by the selfish – but on 72,000 sq m, you could find a corner for them, behind the carrots.
It will be interesting to see how this goes. Left to their own devices, the bureaucrats would obviously mess this up. The mere mortals among us would lose patience and chop the officials into pieces and feed them to aforementioned canines. But the Pop Up Pier group are diplomatic and experienced in humoring idiot-decision-makers, and might succeed in keeping this public space largely intact.