The government is actively looking for new car parking sites in Mui Wo, despite nearly doubling parking capacity in 2019, private Lands Department documents have revealed.
The plans emerged after District Lands Office responded to a 2018 letter of objection concerning a new village house to be built by a senior Mui Wo Rural Committee figure near Silver Mine Bay Waterfall Garden.
In May 2018, a Mui Wo resident objected to the plans, citing reasons including widespread abuse of prohibited roads by construction firms in the village and that local parking could not meet demand of increasing population in the villages.
But this week, around three and a half years after the objections were first lodged, the District Lands Office said the project would go ahead regardless, claiming builders had pledged not to drive in prohibited zones and that Transport Department (TD) was solving the parking issue.
“TD advised they have kept locating suitable sites for additional car parks in Mui Wo in order to meet the increasing demand from residents there,” wrote Simon Yan, District Lands Officer for the Islands, to the resident who lodged the 2018 objection.
The news came as a surprise to some in Mui Wo: in April 2019, the government almost doubled parking supply in the town, providing an additional 118 parking spaces at Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road under the Civil Engineering and Development Department’s “Mui Wo Facelift Project”.
The town now has 264 public car parking spaces in the town centre, one for every 20 residents, but illegal parking is still rampant. At the weekend, hundreds of cars line the River Silver’s pedestrian boulevard footpath, the bus station loading zones and other pavements in the area.
Local drivers and visitors have complained of a lack of parking spaces while other residents have complained of a lack of enforcement of car-free zones. In July, Transit Jam revealed police have a policy of ignoring traffic offences such as driving on prohibited zones and illegal parking.
Dr Merrin Pearse, a sustainability strategist and former chairman of Living Islands Movement, said the government had already pledged to build more car parking as part of the Mui Wo Facelift, and questioned whether TD’s deliberations would involve an actual visit to Mui Wo. “Or will they just be looking at their computer screens?” he said.
TD confirmed it was planning to develop more parking and said it needed to address “the perennial issue of car parking space shortage in Mui Wo”.
“TD has been closely monitoring the demands and taking forward various measures to increase parking spaces as appropriate. For example, providing additional on-street parking spaces at suitable locations to meet drivers’ short-duration parking needs while ensuring that traffic flow, road safety and the loading/unloading activities of other road users will not be affected; following the principle of ‘single site, multiple uses’ to provide public parking spaces in suitable Government, Institution or Community facilities and public open space projects; and identifying vacant government sites suitable for the use of short-term tenancy car parks,” said a spokeswoman.
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