Residents will now be able to have their say on whether or not the city should have a museum.

It's likely, in my view, ratepayers will say no.

The council this week voted 7-3 to poll city residents whether they supported the museum being included in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.

The non-binding referendum will be included in voting papers going out for the by-election to replace the late councillor Gail McIntosh.


Read more: Referendum mooted for $55.7m Tauranga museum plan - council to decide Tuesday
Council will hold $45k referendum on museum plan

Voters will also be asked which site they favoured for a museum - the downtown civic block or Cliff Rd.

The decision comes after the council last year voted to put $25.65m of ratepayer money towards a $55.65m museum at Cliff Rd. The project was added to the council's proposed plan for the next decade.

Although non-binding, the council has been warned that the referendum will lead to a decision to abandon the project because voters would expect the council to abide by the result.

It's a fair point. It would be a brave council that dismissed the wishes of residents.

Feedback on the project has been mixed. Many readers have pointed to the fact that the project has been put forward at a time when the council is projecting 9.7 per cent rate rise.

The council says the increase is necessary to have enough money to pay for urgently needed infrastructure.

Regardless, some households, especially those on low wages or fixed incomes, will struggle to pay it.

I fully support the idea of having a museum. We need to value, preserve and take pride in our history.

Artefacts that tell the tale of our city are currently stored in a warehouse. They remain out of view of the curious minds of the next generation, and the tourists and cruise ship passengers who descend on our city over the summer months.

We look forward to the day when the artefacts will be used in high-tech displays to bring Tauranga's past to life.

However, it is looking increasingly likely that, again, the time might not be right for this project.