Speech by Minister Lawrence Wong at the Opening of Lakeside Garden and the Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show

Apr 27, 2019 14:18

A very good morning to all of you, and a warm welcome to Jurong Lake Gardens and Lakeside Garden.

NParks takes care of many parks and gardens all over Singapore. Every garden is a good garden, but in fact, Lakeside Garden is different from the other gardens. 

Lakeside Garden is part of the Jurong Lake Gardens, which is our third National Garden, after the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. This is not just a town garden, but a national-level garden.

Lakeside is the first phase of Jurong Lake Gardens. This first phase is important because it makes up a significant part of the overall Gardens, and I am very glad that we have achieved this milestone today.

The work for Lakeside Garden itself started back in 2012. It has been seven years. We have taken some time to do this and not rush the process because we know how strongly residents in the West – particularly around Jurong, Boon Lay and the larger western area – feel about the Gardens.

We have taken the time to engage residents and stakeholders through many focus group discussions and public exhibitions. We gathered close to 32,000 suggestions for the whole of Jurong Lake Gardens, and studied them and carefully incorporated them into the design of the Gardens.

All in all, this has truly been a labour of love for the team at NParks and all our partners and stakeholders here who are fans and visitors to the Gardens. Thank you very much for these contributions.

Jurong Lake has always been a special place in the West. It is a green oasis, rich in nature and biodiversity. We have been very mindful to preserve this unique character and natural heritage while we go about injecting more activities and life into the Garden, so that it can truly be a People’s Garden – a garden for Singaporeans of all ages to enjoy. 

For example, on the southern part of Lakeside Garden, NParks has conserved the existing forested area, which is rich in our native flora and fauna. 

If you remember, this whole place used to be a swamp. Rather than have an artificial man-made barrier separating the forested areas and the waters, we integrated them and created a freshwater forest habitat. 

This enhances the natural habitat especially for the herons and water birds that are thriving in this area. We have created boardwalks for visitors to experience this freshwater forest first-hand and get closer to nature.

Because this is our first National Gardens in the heartlands, we have also paid special attention to designing the whole place, not just with the greenery and nature, but with the community in mind.

So in a way, this is NParks’ first integrated project – a project where we look at integrating gardens and greenery with community spaces and a whole range of recreational activities for Singaporeans. I am happy to share that this Garden will boast several first-of-its-kind features.

First, it will have the largest nature play-garden in the heartlands. There are more than 2 hectares of play area for children, and 13 different adventure stations inspired by various animal and nature themes, and the best part: there is no admission charge. You can come anytime; it is free.

Second, we have integrated sports facilities into the Gardens. There is a water sports facility by the lake, operated by the People’s Association, so you can canoe, kayak or dragon-boat on the lake.

ActiveSG and SportSG have also set up a swimming pool and gym facilities. I know many residents around the area look forward to this – you can bring your family and children swimming, and make use of the sports facilities.

Third, we will have Singapore’s largest allotment garden. Community gardening is very popular in Singapore, and we have gone beyond shared community gardens to individual plots which we allocate to individuals or small groups so there is a greater sense of ownership over that particular plot.

Here in Lakeside, we will have Singapore’s largest allotment garden with 300 plots. Those with green fingers can grow their own plants, and meet like-minded gardeners.

Besides these unique features, we have created dedicated spaces for the community in the Garden. In fact, this was one of the regular feedback we received, and so it was an important consideration in the design of the gardens.

We have open lawns as well as multi-purpose halls which community groups can use for the activities and events. We want the Garden to be activated by community groups, so please make full use of these features.

To get this going, NParks is launching the first edition of the Singapore Garden Festival Horticultural Show today at Lakeside Garden.

We have horticultural displays, different varieties of show plants, a pop-up marketplace, and a concert over the weekend.

This is not going to be a one-off occurrence. The Horticultural Show will be held once every two years, and will be here in Jurong Lake Gardens. It will be one of the anchor events in the Jurong Lake events calendar, and hopefully over time, we can build up a whole series of events throughout the year. 

Now that we have completed Lakeside Garden, we will move on to the rest of Jurong Lake Gardens. Let me share briefly some of the exciting plans ahead that you can look forward to. After this, we will move on to the central part of the Gardens, and we will spruce up the existing Chinese and Japanese Gardens. We will retain some of the familiar landmarks like the seven-storey pagoda, twin pagodas and the Bonsai Garden, which hold special memories for many Singaporeans.

They will serve as centrepieces of the Gardens, and NParks will develop other new features around them. That is the central part of the Jurong Lake Gardens, right in the middle of the lake. 

On the Eastern bank of the Lake, we will have a green belt of new attractions. We have the new Science Centre which is being developed, next to Chinese Garden MRT station. South of that, there will be a new tourism attraction – the Singapore Tourism Board has already called for an expression of interest and there has been keen interest from several industry players.

There is also the existing Science Centre building. It is a distinctive building designed by one of our pioneer architects, Mr Raymond Woo, so I think we can keep the building after the Science Centre has moved out, and re-purpose it for other lifestyle and entertainment uses. 

On the eastern belt of the Gardens, we will have a green belt of attractions completely integrated with the Jurong Lake Gardens. Once all these elements are in place, we will be able to complete the Jurong Lake Gardens by around 2026, give or take a few years.

It will be a unique leisure and recreational destination, with a serene lake and lush greenery, and a whole range of attractions for all Singaporeans to enjoy. 

Jurong Lake Gardens does not stand on its own. It is an integral part of our development plans for Jurong Lake District. 

Jurong Lake District has two precincts – Jurong Gateway, which is already shaping up nicely with Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital, offices, shopping malls and entertainment outlets; as well as Lakeside precinct, where the Gardens is, and also the site of the former Jurong Country Club, where we have planned for the Singapore end of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus to be located.

The HSR project has been suspended at Malaysia’s request. By May next year, we will know whether Malaysia wishes to proceed with the project. 

Regardless of the Malaysian decision and the outcome of the HSR project, I assure you that we will continue with our development and transformation plans for Jurong Lake District. 

Jurong Lake District is a major initiative, and we are already going to complete the ring of attractions for Jurong Lake Gardens. Beyond that, Jurong Lake District will be our major transport hub in the West. It will connect the existing North-South and East-West MRT lines, as well as the upcoming Jurong Region and Cross Island lines. There will be four MRT lines connected together here in Jurong Lake District.

The Jurong Country Club site will provide for new mixed-use developments, including the development of a commercial precinct and the injection of new residential homes.

We are also designing the entire area to be a smart and sustainable district where we can test-bed and pilot new innovative urban solutions, try out new ways of living that are more fulfilling and sustainable, develop a car-lite district with green buildings and reduced carbon and energy usage. Jurong Lake District will lead the way for a greener, cleaner, more sustainable, and more liveable environment. It can showcase new solutions that can eventually be tried out, scaled and deployed to other parts of Singapore.

We have already prepared the master plan for the district, and are now studying the staging and implementation plans, taking into account any changes that may be needed along the way. It will take time to develop the entire Jurong Lake District, but there is potential for growth, because Jurong Lake District is strategically located near high-value industries, world-class universities, and the future Tuas Terminal.  

In time to come, I am confident that our plans will be realised – that Jurong Lake District will become the largest commercial and regional centre outside the city.

If you look around the world, there are very few commercial centres with so much green and blue spaces. This is what will be distinctive about Jurong Lake District. The centrepiece of Jurong Lake District will be Jurong Lake Gardens – a beautiful green and blue oasis, offering leisure opportunities for Singaporeans of all ages. 

To conclude, many people have been involved in this Lakeside Garden project, and will continue to be involved in developing the rest of the Gardens. I want to take this opportunity to thank all our NParks officers, as they have worked very hard on this project, as well as our many partners and stakeholders who have given us your feedback and inputs, and worked alongside us on this project.  

We have accomplished an important milestone today but there is still much more we can do together. I look forward to working together with all of you in partnership, to shape the future Gardens and the District of Jurong Lake, and to make it a distinctive and endearing place to live, work and play. 

Thank you very much. Please enjoy the rest of the morning.