By CAITLIN CROWLEY
ENCOURAGING more high density city living, physical activity and event tourism are top of the agenda for Toowoomba Regional Council’s (TRC) newest councillor, Edwina Farquhar.
Almost three months after the departure of former Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio, TRC has a full house again after Farquhar, small business owner, was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Cr Geoff McDonald and Cr Rebecca Vonhoff’s promotions to Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively.
Farquhar was selected after five rounds of voting at a special meeting on Tuesday, which whittled down a crowded field of 23 candidates who’d pitched their case to existing councillors.
Farquhar (pictured with her family) told the Caller she was thrilled to be given the opportunity.
“I’ve had lots and lots of friends and family and colleagues, business people from around town, reach out and say how they think it (her appointment) will be a breath of fresh air,” she said.
“I grew up in Goondiwindi and moved to Toowoomba when I was ten so I’ve got a strong affiliation with the rural side of this region, but I’ve also been a small business owner in Toowoomba since 2011.
“We owned Domino’s Westridge for three years and we built from scratch three other local businesses – The Finch, The Other Bird and now Laundry Espresso.
“I also have some corporate experience I’ll be bringing to the table and a background in marketing and communications, so I guess (I have) that breadth of experience, and I talk to customers daily so I feel I have a really strong, solid, finger on the pulse.”
While outgoing Mayor Paul Antonio alluded to disunity within TRC’s ranks during his retirement announcement, Farquhar had high praise for her new colleagues.
“The time I’ve spent in the last two days – they’re just such a lovely team,” she said.
“I’ve heard historically there’s been a little bit of drama, as an outsider looking in, but I see a great team and they’ve all taken me under their wing and I’m really excited about the future.”
Farquhar described small businesses as the backbone of the community and vowed to do what she could to help “make it easier” for people to run their businesses locally.
“What I would like to do for small business, particularly in the urban hubs, is try and increase housing – high density housing in the really urban areas around the CBDs and the urban centres in our other regional towns,” she said.
“Then create little microcosms where people live and work within that hub, it keeps a few cars off the road as well.”
Farquhar, a mother of three, said recent trips to Rockhampton and Hervey Bay for sporting carnivals highlighted to her opportunities for the Toowoomba region to attract more state and national events.
When asked by the Caller whether TRC needed to do more for its small towns, Farquhar said she needed to “get in there” to understand what key issues TRC was working on at the moment.
As an active cyclist and road runner, Farquhar said she also wants to see more bike lanes and cycle paths to encourage people get active and ride to work.
“I almost got hit by a cement truck while I was out riding the other day with some girls, so we need to make it safe for people to be a bit more active,” she said.
Mayor Geoff McDonald said he looked forward to the contribution Farquhar would bring to her position.
“I’m pleased we have settled the composition of the council team that will serve our residents until the next quadrennial local government election, which is set for March 16, 2024,” he said.
“There is a lot of work to focus on in the final months of this term of the council and my colleagues and I are determined to do and be our absolute best for the rest of the year on behalf of the community.”