Council embarks on $17 million walking track program
FORGET the mining or dining boom, the next big thing could be the walking boom, Cr Geoff McDonald says.
Toowoomba Regional Council has endorsed a policy that will revolutionise walking trails across the 12,973 km² council area.
It is preparing to spend nearly $17 million on improving and expanding the region's trail network.
The council embarked on creating a new policy last year after consultant Tredwell Management Services identified that council had an ad-hoc approach to walking trails across the region including a lack of signage, maintenance and collaboration with neighbouring councils.
The council audited its trails and will now attempt to fill the gaps identified.
A comprehensive four-part document was produced and council endorsed part one on Wednesday.
The council will initially focus on upgrading existing tracks and then build upon the existing network to cater for a wide range of recreational trail users and aiming to deliver iconic trail experiences.
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It will then market the trails to the wider region to capitalise on tourism opportunities.
The council has earmarked $240,000 in funding this financial year to progress works on existing walking trails renewal ($120,000) and to embellish bushland parks ($120,000).
A further $100,000 was allocated for the Yarraman Rail Trail upgrade.
In the short term, spending on trails will exceed $3.12 million, in the medium term $6.2 million and in the longer term a further $7.58 million.
Trails include recreation walking tracks and mountain bike trails.
Cr Geoff McDonald said there was more than 63km of walking trails across the region.
He said the number of people using trails was increasing.
Cr McDonald added the policy was part of a multi-pronged approach to increase tourism and the health and well-being of residents.
"It's all waiting for us. It's just about having a strategy in place to identify gaps and work on the existing trails that we've got."