SINGAPORE - More gardening spaces, a butterfly garden and a dog run are some of the features of the new 4.8ha Bukit Gombak Park, which opened on Sunday (Sept 5).
Residents in the area had asked for some things during consultations on the development of the park, said Ms Low Yen Ling, an MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, who opened it to about 150 residents at an event on Sunday morning.
Ms Low said during the opening: "During our monthly consultations, residents said they wanted more allotment spaces for gardening, so we asked to increase the number from 70 to 120, and they wanted a dog run because it's a hassle to take their dogs all the way to West Coast Park, so we built the first one in this area."
Minister for Trade and Industry and Chua Chu Kang MP Gan Kim Yong was also at the ceremony, and the two MPs planted a tree together to mark the opening.
This comes a day after the National Parks Board (NParks) announced that Singapore's heavily industrialised West Coast would undergo substantial greening by 2030.
The new park is about the size of seven football fields and lies on a hill 45m above sea level - a little less than a third of the height of Bukit Timah Hill.
Offering a view of Bukit Gombak and some of the forested areas in the estate, the park is part of the Bukit Batok Nature Corridor - which forms an ecological corridor between the Central Nature Park Network and the Tengah Forest Corridor in western Singapore.
Built on a previously undeveloped patch of grassland across the road from the Bukit Batok Driving Centre, the park's development was slowed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on construction work.
"The groundbreaking ceremony for this park was on March 31, 2019, and one year later in 2020, it was about 85 per cent complete, but then Singapore had to go into circuit breaker and work stopped. After that, work was slowed down by the limits on the number of workers that could go in at any one time," Ms Low told the media at the event.
The park has about 1,500 trees and care was taken to preserve the biodiversity of the area, she added.
One of the ways to achieve this was through the creation of a butterfly garden near the top of the park, which NParks made in consultation with butterfly experts on the types of plants that would be necessary.
NParks also worked with local butterfly enthusiasts such as Mr Steven Chong, 64, and Ms Lim Cheng Ai, 56, to survey the butterflies living there when the park was nearly ready for the public.
Ms Lim, who has been photographing the colourful flower-living insects in Singapore and the region for three years, told The Straits Times: "There was a survey of the Bukit Gombak area before the park development started and about 45 species of butterflies had been recorded in the area where the park was to be built.
"Now as NParks has planted this garden with host plants (for caterpillars) and nectar plants (where butterflies get their food), many are returning and we have at least 45 species here again, but with some species changes."
The park also has a play area for children combined with an exercise area for adults, a 400m looping track as well as a cafe named Whisk & Paddle.
Bukit Gombak residents Sally Chee, 54, who works in manufacturing, and warehouse worker Peter Phua, 56, were using the park after the opening.
The married couple told ST that the new park was convenient and scenic.
Said Ms Chee in Mandarin: "I've been working from home for so long - this park will give me a good place to relax. We also hope to use the gardening allotments as we both like growing things."