We have a lot in common. Every day we take the same bus or boat to work in the real Hong Kong, we shop in the same supermarket, buy our bread in the same bakery, etc. We all hope for a decent pay rise and pray that mortgage rates will remain affordable. More than anything else we care about the future of our children. We have all chosen to live in Discovery Bay because we share common values. A greener, cleaner, quieter and safer living environment for our families. We build friendships across cultural bridges in our homes and in the commercial centre. But what we have always lacked in Discovery Bay is a place for community-based activities. Less than a third of all residents have access to the private membership club facilities in Discovery Bay.

In 2000, as part of the assessment of the additional land premium payable for the residential development in Yi Pak Wan (Siena and Chianti) the Government imposed a number of conditions on the developer, Hong Kong Resort Company Limited (HKR). These included a provision for two additional schools (English Schools Foundation and a local school), an indoor recreational centre and a community centre, wet market facilities, a second transport interchange and a second ferry pier in Yi Pak Wan.

The first of the Government facilities to open will be the Community Centre. The building has been completed and will be handed over to the Government in early July 2007 for fitting out.

On the ground floor there is a Community Hall with a stage and a sitting capacity of 450 suitable for holding a variety of functions. In addition to that there are a conference room, 2 dressing rooms and associated facilities. It will be managed by the Home Affairs Department. Charges will be minimal as in similar Community Centres in Hong Kong.

The Integrated Services Centre with a gross floor area of 678 sq. m. is located on the first floor. It will be run by an NGO, the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council. The facilities include an activity room, a mini-theatre, an adventure corner, an audio-visual room, training studios, etc. It will offer after-school and social activities to the children, elderly and all age groups.

It is up to us to make it really work. It is a great gift, a great opportunity providing space and programs that welcome the entire community and unite our community across lines of age, race, gender and economics. It will give visibility to the culture and diversity of our community, allow us to organize and plan our social, cultural, economic and political future, nurture new organizations and programs to meet emerging community needs.

So this is an early appeal to all of you. We need people that can plan, organize and execute to make full use of the Community Centre. If you have talents (whether you can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, know how to cook sweet and sour pork or mussels in white wine, want to exhibit your paintings, know how to make a nice MySpace layout, work with Adobe, organize a mahjong evening or a bridge club, teach English to the non English speaking, Chinese to the English speaking or Tai Chi or set up a boy or girl scout group) and are able and willing to share your knowledge and ideas with the community on a non profit basis, please contact me.

Let’s work together on a better Discovery Bay!