Grow­ing op­po­si­tion to botanic ‘gar­dens’ prompts project re-brand

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew New­ton matthew.new­ton@chin­chillanews.com.au

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.

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