Calling all residents of Brickland, especially the young! Your MP Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) is bringing The Bricks, a world-class BMX park, in this neighbourhood where people love bikes.
The Bricks will be Singapore’s only facility with a BMX racing track and ancillary pump track, and located where Chua Chua Kang Grove meets Chua Chu Kang Drive; where that big grassy field is now. A BMX academy will be next to it. It will be a new place to pedal and find friends across generations, particularly with the Singapore Cycling Federation. Adventures await!
“We designed the track to fit international standards and bring international competitions to the residents,” said MP Wee about the efforts of his team of Singapore Cycling Federation stalwarts and community volunteers when we interviewed him for our My Place MP feature series about how our MPs make their wards more livable places for their residents. “We will have the groundbreaking ceremony in February; that’ll be a very good first milestone.”
And, as we at Petir.sg soon found out, MP Wee has also planned The Bricks as a place which makes a positive difference for a particular set of Bricklanders.
Source: Don Wee / Facebook
“It’s not just about the hardware. The largest rental block in South West District is about 100 metres away from this proposed BMX track, and the bulk of the residents are young kids or youths,” said MP Wee, who himself grew up in a rental flat. “Once you have this, it’s a good place for guys and girls who are often at risk to exercise, spend their energy and socialise.”
The Bricks, then is a long-term project from this first-term MP.
This makes sense. Most flats in Brickland are new; this means that most families here are young. So, these are formative years for the ward, and MP Wee is here alongside his residents, helping them build their future brick by brick.
|Don Wee builds Brickland’s future, brick by brick
|– The Bricks cycle park is a positive social space for at-risk youth (and there’s even a Singapore Cycling Federation-supported BMX academy next to it too)
– Hosts Community Inclusive Play sports events; everyone’s, especially people with disabilities, welcome!
– Onboarded two much-needed childcare centres for Brickland’s young families
– Started a Mental Health subcommittee which organises workshops and seminars especially for younger residents
– Asked the Government to spruce up the ward’s heartland shops and the Keat Hong Shopping Centre wet market
– Questioned the Monetary Authority of Singapore on the DBS and POSB service outages since many local shopkeepers and hawkers rely on a sole bank account to do business
Don finds ways to get projects going for Brickland
In fact, MP Wee’s personal tenacity kickstarted The Bricks. Turning that Chua Chu Kang field into a BMX track was not in any Ministry plans.
“If it’s not planned for, then basically you have to wait. Or ask donors,” he recounted, when Petir.sg asked him about the difficulty of getting funds to build the track. “Plus we had to obtain approval from HDB [Housing and Development Board] and SLA [Singapore Land Authority] to utilise that piece of land.”
Coincidentally (and fortunately), the Singapore Cycling Federation was looking for a new home at that time. MP Wee partnered with them to design The Bricks. He even joined their fundraisers — he has raised about $1 million for The Bricks’ construction so far.
“So this is outside the HDB or Government budget — including the Town Council’s budget — to build. It’s really leveraging personal entrepreneurship and networks to implement and construct the project,” he detailed.
Cue sessions with groups, agencies and people who could make a difference together in getting The Bricks built and working.
“We have to access a lot of entrepreneurship, negotiation skills to get partners. So I’m glad that we, in this elaborate, creative manner, could source private funds to improve Brickland,” said MP Wee, who knows that much good can be done when including more people in a community project.
A virtuous cycle
MP Wee’s also used these negotiation skills for other ad-hoc improvements to his ward. For instance, the signalised pedestrian crossing near the Chua Chu Kang market. That comes from him talking to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and local churches that the worshippers there needed protection from traffic, especially on busy weekends. Bus 991C, which makes it easier for Brickland residents to get to the North-South Line in the mornings, similarly comes from how MP Wee took on feedback from residents and worked with the LTA to find a feasible route forward.
He is optimistic too, following feedback from a couple of nearby shop owners about The Bricks.
“They are very excited because The Bricks will increase their footfall. It will improve the vibrancy of the row of shophouses located there,” he shared.
What’s his vision for Brickland?, we asked to wrap up this interview.
“To keep enlivening it,” MP Wee immediately answered. “Really building up the community, literally and figuratively — everything here is so new.”
So he’s looking forward to seeing Bricklanders do their first bar turns across The Bricks’ track and their first drop ins up and down its starthills.
At that point, there will be more opportunities for Brickland’s youths, merchants and community overall to unite and thrive together.
It will be MP Wee starting a virtuous cycle.