By HARRY CLARKE
IN ONE of the Western Downs council’s biggest infrastructure spends in a “very, very long time”, works on a state-of-the art new Dalby Cultural Hub are now underway.
Expected to be completed by the end of 2022, the new facility will feature a library, cinema, theatre, office spaces and outdoor areas for dining and entertainment.
The $14 million redevelopment of the MyALL 107 library on Drayton St is being funded by the Western Downs Regional Council and the federal government, which have split the costs 50-50.
The first sods were turned at the now construction site by WDRC mayor Paul McVeigh, Maranoa MP David Littleproud, Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise infrastructure manager Lance MacManus and FKG project manager Connor Quinn.
Mr McVeigh said the exisiting 40-year-old MyALL 107 library facility was “getting tired” and needed to be revitalised.
“It is the eastern entrance to the Western Downs and we are very excited about this great development,” he said.
“It turns a building that’s getting tired into an absolutely brilliant cultural centre for the Western Downs, especially the people in Dalby and those visiting Dalby.
Council money has come from its Covid Recovery Package.
Dalby Library has temporarily relocated to the Findex Building on Drayton Street, while the Dalby art gallery has temporarily relocated to the Marble Street Arts Centre at 23 Marble Street.
“This is a big spend. This is one of the biggest infrastructure spends in our community for a very, very long time,” Mr McVeigh said.
“Western Downs is growing and we have job vacancies everywhere. We need to be able to attract people to our region and one of the best ways to do that is to have facilities like this that families can come and enjoy.”
The Dalby Cultural Hub is being built by the FKG Group, which TSBE’s Lance MacManus said had a strong track record of delivering construction projects in the Western Downs.
“It’s fantastic to see FKG, who have a fantastic local content record in the region, building this infrastructure,” Mr MacManus said.
“We are looking forward to engaging with them to stimulate money and keep that money in the community through local subcontractor and contractor opportunities.”
David Littleproud, who this month has also visited Chinchilla’s Lupunyah Art Gallery and announced $2.1 million in funding for upgrades at the Stanthorpe Art Gallery, said arts and cultural infrastructure was equally important as roads and rail in the regions.
“This is about attracting people to regional rural Australia, and understanding that they cannot only have a career pathway, but they can have the ammenities that people in metropolitan Australian get to enjoy,” he said.
“What this partnership (with the WDRC) does with $14 million in taxpayer investment is ensures that Dalby continues to evolve as a modern community that’s able to attract people to come here and work and play.”
The $7 million federal government money is part of its Building Better Regions Fund.