HALTED DECISION: Jim Wilkinson said he was “appalled” by the council’s decision to remove funding for the botanical gardens.
HALTED DECISION: Jim Wilkinson said he was “appalled” by the council’s decision to remove funding for the botanical gardens.

Anger as botanical gardens ‘deleted’ from budget

A BOLD initiative to bring a botanical garden to life in Stanthorpe has been "deleted" from the Southern Downs Regional Council funding.

An application through the State Government's Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund for a $5 million "world-class facility" was knocked back.

Key proponent of the project Jim Wilkinson said the onus of the project's lack in state funding fell on the council.

"You've got to go back to square one, if (the council) can't put money on the table there's no evidence to support that they are serious," Mr Wilkinson said.

"It's been deleted entirely from their budget; there is no forward planning for it.

"If the council doesn't put it on a high priority, it won't get funded."

The proposed gardens would run along Quart Pot Creek, between Lock St and Britannia St.

The proposed site for the Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens, along Quart Pot Creek between Lock St and Britannia St.
The proposed site for the Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens, along Quart Pot Creek between Lock St and Britannia St.

Mr Wilkinson said a 10-year development of the gardens had been proposed to council, with the project set to increase jobs and tourism.

"It's a reason for people to come here and stay," he said.

"The botanic gardens, based on the figures (of other sites), could infuse up to 200,000 people when it's a bit more mature in 10 years.

"There wouldn't be a small business in this town that wouldn't benefit."

Portfolio councillor for parks and open spaces Andrew Gale said the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought during this year's budget pushed the project to a lower priority.

"It's a really exciting project … it's at a stage where we're moving to approve the concept but unfortunately without some significant funding, it's not really at a stage where we can start moving to actually delivering," Cr Gale said.

"It needs to go into our medium- and long-term plan, because the scope of it is pretty big."

While water security across the Granite Belt remains a hot topic, Cr Gale said it wasn't factored into the decision not to fund the gardens.

"It's not the use of water, it's really the use of funding at the moment," he said.

Mr Wilkinson said a space like the botanical gardens would complement the established national parks on the Granite Belt.

"A lot of people here can't walk in Girraween, they're not able or fit. This provides them an amenity not just for people who are frail but for people who can't get out to national parks," he said.

"It should be here in the town where school kids can walk down and enjoy the amenity of it.

"I'm appalled the community could miss out entirely because if it's not in the budget, it's not there at all.