Sustainability is among the five goals outlined in our Corporate Plan 2019 - 2024. We promote sustainable business practices in both our own operations and those of regional organisations.
What we are doing
We are partnering with other Councils through the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) and the Department of Environment and Science (DES) to plan for and respond to changes in our climate. Read more about the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils program at qcrc.lgaq.asn.au.
Additionally, the following specific activities are being progressed.
We also aim to implement new technology for energy management in our facilities. Our Highfields Sport and Recreation Park and the Toowoomba City Library, which is fitted with solar roof panels, were designed with energy efficiency in mind.
New technology helps staff monitor and track waste streams in different locations and times of the year which can help identify and resolve issues with processes.
Water harvesting is also used in several Council buildings.
Parks, gardens & green infrastructure
All horticultural activities are progressed with a focus on the use of best practice methodologies to limit water use and achieve quality horticultural outputs.
Trees are managed with the following approaches:
- Drought tolerance, the suitability of soil type and adaptation to local climatic conditions are all important considerations when selecting trees for planting based. Where possible endemic, native or drought exotic species are used.
- Our tree planting program is adjusted according to experienced weather. This includes suspending planting in times of extreme heat and limited rainfall.
- Trees are well mulched to retain soil moisture.
- When establishing new trees, watering is kept to levels to ensure establishment without excess water use. After an establishment period, trees are typically self-sustaining requiring no watering.
- Long-lived tree species are commonly used as long-term investments for the neighbourhood.
- Wherever possible water for tree planting is sourced from local collection points.
Parks that are irrigated are 'Category A' sports fields, high-profile lawn areas and shrub beds, tree establishment and annual plantings. The majority of parkland across the Region are not irrigated.
Responsible irrigation practices are used for all park-related activities. For example:
- Water restriction policies are followed and water conservation plans prepared by branches of Council that use large amounts of water.
- Irrigation systems are regularly checked, maintained and improved to ensure water-efficient design.
- Garden display beds include annual flowers, xeriscapes, artworks or a combination of all three depending on the current water restrictions.
Ponds and fountains are designed to look attractive even when empty or switched off.
Best practice water use is used for the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers - balancing the maintenance and development of the Region's largest event with efficient water use.
Green infrastructure (Green.IS) is another example of our commitment to sustainability. Green.IS is an approach that recognises the value of nature and greenery to our community and culture, and treats natural elements as a form of infrastructure, just as with roads or bridges. As part of our commitment to Green.IS, we planted more than 3500 trees in 2018 and have strategies for improving Council-owned parks, street trees and open spaces. Read the full Green Infrastructure Strategy.
Reduction in the use of plastics
We've taken steps to reduce the use of plastic items by exploring options to remove plastic straws, helium balloons and single-use plastic bottles in the organisation. Employees are encouraged to find new or improved ways to recycle in the work environment and reduce plastic waste.
We are committed to ensuring the sustainable development of the region. The economic strength of the region, the health and welfare of its residents, and the state of the environment are directly linked to the transport system. Sustainable transport is about making the best use of our transport systems to serve the needs of the region. This will ensure that our region is an attractive, healthy and affordable place to live.
The strategy is for the whole of the Toowoomba Region, including Toowoomba City, urban Toowoomba (including Highfields, Gowrie, Wyreema and Kingsthorpe), and other outer regional centres. Reliance on private vehicles for transport in the region is well established but as the region grows, we have a responsibility to facilitate safer, more reliable and user-friendly public and active transport.
The strategy aims:
- to ensure that residents and visitors who cannot drive, have access to affordable and viable transport alternatives.
- to encourage greater physical activity to benefit the health of residents.
- to make it easier for customers to support local business whether they get there on foot, using a wheelchair, riding a bicycle, catching a bus or driving a car or truck.
- to enhance the amenity and heritage of our city and towns by minimising air and noise pollution from traffic, the need for wider roads and more parking;
- to ensure the economic resilience of our communities to the increasing cost of petrol.
We’re progressing our Waste Infrastructure Plan, which aims to divert as much waste as possible from entering landfill. In 2018, we opened waste transfer facilities at Cecil Plains, Cooyar and Evergreen, which act as improved outlets for recycling. These services save direct costs and are greatly beneficial for the environment. In 2018, over 7500 tonnes of greenwaste was diverted from landfill as a result of this service, in addition to over 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled via kerbside collection.
We have future plans to implement a Landfill Gas Project. Waste facilities are our biggest emitters of greenhouse gas, and a gas re-use project would help to significantly reduce emissions, as well as overall costs. The project is also advantageous for ratepayers, as it produces a commercial return to reduce overall costs of landfilling operations.
In addition to these plans, in 2019 we began diverting tyres from landfill to be repurposed for our road reseal program.