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LCQ6: Planning and management of recreational facilities
  Following is a question by the Hon Dominic Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):
  Regarding the planning and management of the recreational facilities under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as many members of the public have relayed that the LCSD's outdoor play equipment is insufficient and has monotonous design, whether the LCSD will consider introducing more types of play equipment, and incorporating various themes (e.g. integrating the concept of environmental protection into the equipment) for users to acquire different knowledge while playing; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) as it is learnt that smart electronic payment means, such as payment by Octopus, are still not yet available at quite a number of sports venues under the LCSD, but there are already smart parks and 5G parks on the Mainland, and a competition on smart park creation was also held in Hong Kong in 2021, whether the LCSD will, by drawing reference from the practices on the Mainland and the said competition, introduce smart parks to enhance the functions of its play equipment, and implement electronic payment at its fee-charging recreational facilities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) as it has been reported that when an inter-school football match held earlier at a pitch under the LCSD had not yet come to the end, the automatic sprinkler system at the pitch was suddenly activated, and this incident has called into question LCSD's facility management level, whether the LCSD has formulated working guidelines in the light of the incident to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

  The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) provides various kinds of recreation and sports facilities such as indoor sports centres, outdoor pitches or courts, fitness equipment and children's playgrounds etc. Regarding outdoor children's playgrounds, we endeavour to provide diversified, innovative and fun play spaces for children to enjoy playing, develop their body and mind as well as promote their interaction with one another. We actively engage in the application of different smart technologies to enhance the daily management and maintenance of parks as well as enrich the experience and enhance the pleasure of the users of park facilities.
  My reply to the question raised by the Hon Lee is as follows:

(1) At present, the LCSD manages about 670 venues that offer outdoor children's playgrounds. Over the past three years, the LCSD provided a total of 26 additional children's playgrounds; and another 12 will be provided in the next three years. The LCSD will continue to identify suitable sites to provide more safe, fun and popular play facilities for children to enjoy, build up their physical strength as well as learn how to get along with one another through playing, thereby benefitting their physical and mental development.
  In recent years, the LCSD has tried to design the children's playgrounds with innovative ideas. The children's playground in Tuen Mun Park is the first inclusive playground that provides diversified facilities for children of different ages and abilities to play together, which has been very well received by the public. The Government further announced in the 2019 Policy Address that the LCSD would launch a five-year plan of public play spaces (PPS) transformation, with an estimated total expenditure of nearly $700 million, to transform more than 170 venues under its purview. The transformed Shung Ling Street Playground in Wong Tai Sin District was opened in December last year. Among the four transformation projects to be completed this year, the PPS at Sham Shui Po Park is the largest one, covering an area of 6 400 square metres.
  When building and transforming PPS, the LCSD will consider adopting different themes, providing various degrees of challenges and fun, and incorporating more natural and environmentally-friendly elements with a view to enabling the children to learn through playing. The LCSD will also hire professional firms to engage different stakeholders and solicit their views through workshops and questionnaire surveys etc. to strengthen community participation. Furthermore, the LCSD and the Architectural Services Department even co-organised a design competition for PPS in 2022. The design ideas and concepts of the winning entries will be adopted when implementing the transformation projects of PPS in the future.

(2) At present, the majority of hirers of fee-charging recreation and sports facilities under the LCSD make booking and payment with multiple electronic payment methods via the online booking system "Leisure Link System" (LLS) or its mobile version. A small portion of hirers make the booking via self-service kiosks and pay by Octopus, or via booking counters by cash. Currently, the LCSD is developing a brand new intelligent sports and recreation services booking and information system at full steam to replace the existing LLS. The new system will support more electronic payment methods, including Octopus and Faster Payment System, on the internet, in the mobile app and at self-service kiosks. The new system is expected to be rolled out in the third quarter this year. Booking of recreation and sports facilities will then become faster and more convenient for members of the public.
  Meanwhile, the LCSD is proactive in adopting different smart technologies to promote the transformation of parks into smart ones, including the collaboration with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to launch a Smart Toilet Pilot Programme at Kowloon Park this month. The programme aims to enhance the management efficiency and service quality of the toilets with the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology and sensors. The LCSD will review the programme and assess its effectiveness on an ongoing basis to facilitate the consideration of the future arrangements.
  Furthermore, the LCSD will launch a trial scheme to develop an information technology system which will digitalise inspection reports and records of maintenance progress of various facilities in LCSD's parks such as children's playgrounds, fitness equipment and sports equipment etc. This will enhance efficiency and reduce the time of temporary suspension of the facilities due to malfunctions or damages.
  The LCSD also proactively supports the Development Bureau's scheme of tree labels with QR codes. It is gradually attaching such labels on roadside trees maintained by the LCSD and on trees in LCSD parks to facilitate reporting of problematic trees, enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of tree management as well as provide the public with more knowledge about trees.

(3) The 42 natural turf pitches and 41 artificial turf pitches currently under the management of the LCSD are generally equipped with automatic irrigation systems that sprinkle water regularly every day to ensure that the turf pitches are in good condition at all times. Irrigation has always been scheduled to hours without booking to avoid causing disturbance to hirers.
  The artificial turf pitch of Shek Kip Mei Park, equipped with an automatic irrigation system, was hired by an organiser of an inter-school football competition from 3pm to 6pm on December 12, 2022 to host two matches of inter-school football competition for secondary schools. Meanwhile, the automatic irrigation system had previously been set to operate at 6.07pm in order not to affect the use of the venue by the next hirer at 6.30pm. The second match was originally scheduled to start at 4.15pm. The organiser, however, delayed its starting time to 4.50pm eventually. Therefore, the said match could not finish by the end of the originally hired period (i.e. 6pm). In response to the request made by the person-in-charge of the competition, the venue staff allowed the match to continue, but did not turn off the automatic irrigation system in view of the actual situation. This led to the sudden onset of water sprinkling before the match ended and affected the venue users. The LCSD has apologised for the incident and to the persons affected; and cautioned the staff concerned.
  To avoid reoccurrence of similar incidents, the LCSD has asked venue staff to communicate with organisers well beforehand in order to learn about the arrangements of the competitions or major events, and to request the organisers to book sufficient time slots for the competitions or events to be held. The LCSD will also make arrangements to meet the actual needs of the organisers as far as possible where circumstances allow, including adjusting the operating time of the automatic irrigation system, to avoid disruption of the competitions or events.
  Moreover, the LCSD has organised a briefing session for frontline staff of the artificial turf soccer pitch of Shek Kip Mei Park and other venues.  Staff from relevant works departments have explained to the venue staff on the operation of the automatic irrigation system to ensure that the latter are well versed in adjusting the operating time of the system.

     Thank you president.
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Issued at HKT 17:04
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