COUNCIL UPDATE: How SDRC is working for you this week
COUNCIL offices are abuzz with activity this week as councillors and staff prepare to hand down the 2020/21 budget, due to be released in just 12 days time.
In among all of the new fees, charges and policies are some particularly interesting new developments that could change the face of small villages such as Killarney and Ballandean, while majorly improving tourism across the board.
Read about how state and federal government funding is coming into play, and what exciting ideas have been suggested, in the Daily News round up below.
AS DOMESTIC tourism booms across the country, the Southern Downs could benefit from a $25 million State Government infrastructure fund. The Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund aims to fast-track the development of new, or enhanced, tourism projects with the hope of strengthening the local industry in the wake of coronavirus. During a meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council, councillors voted to put forward a series of “shovel-ready” projects for consideration, including Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens, the relocation of the Warwick Visitor Information Centre and free public Wi-Fi.
THE picturesque town of Killarney has been selected to benefit from the next round of Southern Downs Regional Council Urban Design Frameworks, a program that uses community feedback to inform future development. The UDF process has already begun to reap rewards for towns such as Maryvale, where the railway reserve was removed from the Environmental Management Register and features such as new walkways and entertainment areas have been planned. Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi identified Killarney and Ballandean as targets for the 2021/22 UDFs during a portfolio meeting held at council, indicating big changes could be on the way.
HIDDEN costs could halt the progression of a $90 million water security project to create a pipeline between Lake Wivenhoe and Leslie Dam, according to the mayor. The Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy completed the $1 million feasibility study this week, and will soon seek to finalise the details with Southern Downs Regional Council and Toowoomba Regional Council. Cr Pennisi said the only way he could endorse the project was if he could guarantee residents wouldn’t be hit with hefty additional fees.
THE Southern Downs is suffering through its third consecutive year of the worst drought on record, but 120 litre per person, per day, water restrictions are here to stay. New council research has found the reticulated water system could not handle a return to daily 80 litres a person limit, as the low water use caused more problems than it solved. “There were other issues that started to creep into the system,” Cr Pennisi said. “Because there was water laying in the pipes it wasn’t getting flushed out.”
TOURISM may take a different direction on the Southern Downs after federal government funding allowed the council to invest in a targeted events strategy plan. SDRC staff are set to seek professional help in coming weeks to determine the type of tourism events that will give the region the most bang for its buck. SDRC CEO Jane Stroud said it would help council staff determine which projects receive funding, and which do not. The news comes as both Warwick and Stanthorpe become trending school holiday destinations, with interest increasing 480 per cent and 1030 per cent respectively, according to a recent report by Wotif.com.