TOOWOOMBA might bill itself as the Garden City but when it comes to the amount of parks we have and our access to them, we're ranked last in the country, according to new Federal Government data.
The surprising statistics show just 3.8 per cent of the city is designated green space, and only 66.3% of Toowoomba homes have parks and open space within 400m of their front door, ranking us last in Australia in both measurements.
Toowoomba Regional Council mayor Paul Antonio was cautious about commenting on the figures until the Federal Government revealed its data sources, but was happy to lay down his city's green credentials.
"The reality is the Toowoomba region has 566 parks, with 7,771 hectares of open space. By 2031, we are planning to increase that to 581 parks and more than 8,000 hectares," he said.
The current ratio of open space to residents sits at a comfortable 4.3 hectares per 1,000 residents, and by 2031 that will increase to 5.1 hectares per 1,000 residents."
When asked whether the figures could in part be because of past housing developments and suburbs that were developed without consideration of parkland, Cr Antonio said "it could be viewed in that way".
"But I think in the last six years or so we've been very conscious of our responsibilities," he said.
Cr Antonio pointed to the foresight of those who years ago decided to keep Queens Park instead of turning it into another residential area.
"That's positive stuff. We have, as a council, an obligation to look for another Queens Park, another Laurel Bank Park, and that's what good planning is all about."
But while there's room to grow for the city's parks and gardens, our waistlines are another matter.
The statistics reinforced that Toowoomba remains the fattest city in the country, with 36.3% of adults suffering from obesity.
But the negatives aren't enough to put a dampener on the city's burgeoning employment growth.
The only place in the nation to outrank us in terms of annual employment growth was Ballarat, which sits at 10.3%, and is followed closely by Toowoomba on 9.26%.
The city ranked third-best in the country for managing home loan repayments, with just 4.13% of households under mortgage stress.
Cr Antonio pointed to the good work being done by the council and local industry.
He said the Second Range Crossing and Inland Rail would also provide employment boosts for Toowoomba.
Cr Antonio said he was thankful the Federal Government was interested in the smart city concept, adding he'd like to know what their plans are for it in the future.
Head to smart-cities.dashboard.gov.au/ to check out the figures.
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