A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Growing opposition to botanic ‘gardens’ prompts project re-brand
IN LIGHT of vocal opposition to the botanic “gardens” in Chinchilla, Mayor Paul McVeigh and Cr Peter Saxelby, as well as the Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry, have argued for the project to be re-named to better reflect what is actually proposed for the space between the Chinchilla Museum and the Warrego Hwy.
GROWING opposition to the planned botanic “gardens” in Chinchilla has prompted Council to rename the project the Chinchilla Botanical Parklands.
Numerous people took to social media after the release of Western Downs Regional Council’s draft masterplan for the parklands and news of $2.6 million to fund the project, suggesting it was a waste of ratepayer money and a waste of water.
Chinchilla’s Councillor Peter Saxelby agreed the name didn’t represent what was really planned for the area – which would include a main event lawn, adventure playground, open spaces – and said he would sooner call it the “Parklands”.
WDRC mayor Paul McVeigh also said he was now referring to the project as the “Parklands”.
And there is more to the Parklands than it’s original “botanic gardens” name suggested.
Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry president Rob Hart, in this week’s Letters to the Editor page, said the project was not about plants, and the name should be changed.
Growing tourism in Chinchilla has long been one of the CCCI’s long-term goals.
“(The Parklands) is about creating a platform for a long-term phased economic development (creating an asset and adding to it, just like Bulldog Park has developed over four decades) and diversification (add tourism and more events to our other industries) of the town,” Mr Hart wrote.
“It's about a first-class events space, a home for a future megafauna museum and STEM education centre plus an extension of our existing museum, a place for travellers to stop and stay a night to explore, a community space for markets and families to gather, a potential new home for our visitor information centre when the highway is changed, and so much more.
“All of this potential adds to Chinchilla's prosperity and livability.”
In recent years, it has emerged researchers have been uncovering megafauna fossils up to five million-years-old in and around the Chinchilla area – something that if developed properly could revive Chinchilla’s tourism industry.
Cr McVeigh said it was “great to see the initiatives of the CCCI in progressing the opportunities for a museum or megafauna opportunities that lie in and around Chinchilla”.
“From a Council point of view, we’re very supportive of what the CCCI is doing in trying to initiate new opportunities for both our local community and for our future tourism and attractions around our new parklands,” he said.
Cr Saxelby said he saw the need for a new parkland area for several reasons.
“Fuller Place is too small to have events – if you look at Anzac Day, they’re overflowing into the streets... and at some stage we’re going to have to consider relocating Anzac Day,” he said.
“And if the Melon Festival continues to grow, we possibly may have to consider relocating that.
“Also with Main Roads taking all that land (for the Wambo Street Crossing upgrade) we’re going to have to move the Sunday Markets somewhere.”
But having said that, Cr Saxelby said he did not want the Parklands “getting bigger than Ben Hur”.
Regarding people’s concerns about water, Cr Saxelby said Council was looking at tapping into the raw water that the Bowls Club and Recreation Grounds currently feed off.
He acknowledged that people were entitled to their own opinions on the project, but said they should contact Council with their concerns instead of sharing them on Facebook.
“Unfortunately people think of tourism and they think of Dreamworld, Sea World, Movie World, but they don’t think of tourism in the outback, tourism in the country,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who stop in Chinchilla and have a look around and travel through, spend a few nights at the weir, so something like (The Parklands) in town would hopefully be good for Chinchilla.” Council will take the draft master plan out to the community in July.
WHAT’S IT CALLED: WDRC's draft masterplan of the newly named Chinchilla Botanical Parklands.