Face Off: Should the Hong Kong government raze country parks to build more flats?

Face Off: Should the Hong Kong government raze country parks to build more flats?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week …

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The current debate is raging on how to increase land supply in Hong Kong.
Photo: Winson Wong/SCMP

Angelina Wang, 16, Chinese International School
Yes, Hong Kong is facing a housing crisis. With the rising costs of renting and buying property here, the number of registered homeless people has gone up almost 22 per cent in the past year. According to official figures. more than 1,000 people are sleeping on the streets every night. Homeless organisations estimate the actual number to be more than 2,000.

We need to find a workable solution to the problem – we cannot allow people to live in shelters, cage homes, or under bridges any more.

One viable solution is to raze (in other words, to destroy) our city’s country parks to make way for more housing. While this might sound a bit drastic, this idea is well-founded.

According to the Hong Kong government website, less than 25 per cent of Hong Kong’s land is developed. On the other hand, country parks cover more than 40 per cent of Hong Kong. Country parks are currently used for the purposes of nature conservation, outdoor recreation, and education. However, the redevelopment of some areas in country parks to make way for housing can offer many benefits.

Razing areas in country parks can be done in an environmentally friendly way. For example, currently there are certain areas in country parks occupied by reservoirs that are practically empty. They are worthless because we get enough water from the mainland. Development of such areas would have no major effect on the ecosystem, nor any real impact on how we enjoy the remaining parts of the country parks. Such a move would bring so many benefits to space-starved Hong Kong. Converting a few hectares of the city’s parks could provide flats to hundreds of people.

The real answer to Hong Kong’s housing shortage lies in addressing the root cause: land supply. That’s why we need to support the government and use our available resources responsibly.

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Lauren Faith Lau, 18, University of Hong Kong
The answer to this question should be a big fat NO. We should never sacrifice nature for things like building flats.

If we let ourselves start razing country parks for housing, it won’t stop there. The government will start building flats in more areas of country parks and the countryside will eventually disappear.

I personally believe it’s a matter of ethics and thinking about the future. Sure, razing a few parks would provide an immediate solution to Hong Kong’s housing shortage, but what happens when all the country parks are gone? What happens when the result is irreversible environmental damage?

There are too many problems that would emerge from razing our city’s country parks. Our future generations would suffer from the mess we would leave.

Many plant and animal species would go extinct as a result of our actions. With less trees in Hong Kong, we would contribute to global warming instead of trying to tackle it. We might lose the chance to study rare species of butterflies or plants that might only exist in our parks. We would be killing living creatures for selfish reasons. That’s not fair to them. Many similar incidents have occurred already – landfills, for example, have a major impact on Hong Kong’s environment. Also, we have caused a lot of harm to the pink dolphins that live in the city’s waters.

The government has many options that could be used to deal with the city’s housing shortage. Golf courses and brownfields, for instance, could be used to build more flats. I want to tell the government: please spare our city’s country parks!

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should the government raze country parks to build more flats?

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