Feeding parking meters voluntarily?

Itinéraire parking meter

L’Itinéraire, the community group that’s trying to come up with innovative ways of supporting the poorest people in the city, is announcing a new idea today: take those old coin-operated parking meters that the city is about to have a giant surplus of, repaint them green and ask people to dump their change in it voluntarily to help the poor.

On paper it sounds like a fantastic idea. It’s reusing equipment that would otherwise have been trashed, with a minimum of modification, and it gives people something to do with their change instead of handing it over to squeegee-kids and panhandlers.

But in practice, with how much Montrealers hate parking meters in general, will many of them be motivated to dump money in a symbolic representation of their hard-earned money being taken away by the government?

UPDATE: Gazette intern Ryan Bergen has the story. He notes that the meters will cost $750 each to refurbish and the information that goes with them will be in French only.

3 thoughts on “Feeding parking meters voluntarily?

  1. princess iveylocks

    Two points:

    1) That prototype (I’m assuming it’s theirs and not yours… image credit?) is poorly designed. Without your explanation, I had no idea what it was for, or what it benefits. I’m still not sure how credible L’Itineraire is; although, strangely, if they put up fake parking meters, it might function as good PR.

    2) By operating parking meters, Montreal is not “taking away hard-earned money”, rather, people who choose to operate a motor vehicle and park it downtown are paying the opportunity cost of having the government provide roads for them to drive on. They’re directly funding a service based on usage (think toll roads), instead of supporting it indirectly via taxes. (I realise this concept is strange to Quebeckers…) Tim Harford’s “The Undercover Economist” has an excellent explanation of why the difference matters.

    Reply
  2. Fagstein Post author

    Spoken like a true non-driver.

    I notice too that this group has partnered with advertising companies to make this happen. Did none of them think that parking meters have a bad reputation in this city?

    Reply
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