Innovation That Matters

Recycled parking meters collect donations for Montréal's homeless


If old candy machines can be used to enable guerrilla gardening, then why shouldn’t old parking meters be used to help combat homelessness? Such, in fact, is exactly the premise behind the ParcoDon campaign, an effort in Montréal to collect money for the city’s most destitute residents. ParcoDons are the City of Montréal’s retired mechanical parking meters, 70 or so of which have been recycled as standing piggy banks designed to collect donations to help the city’s homeless. The project was launched in 2007 by Stationnement de Montréal—the city’s parking authority—along with the Ville-Marie borough and the L’Itinéraire newspaper. To draw further attention to the effort, its organizers this year asked local Quebec celebrities and organizations to “adopt” and personalize the parking meters with acrylic paint. Accordingly, since two workshops in March, those decorated meters—each signed by a person or institution—have been placed throughout the streets of Ville-Marie, amounting to a sort of local Walk of Fame. All funds collected in the meters will be used by L’Itinéraire to provide a wide variety of services for the benefit of Montréal’s homeless. A video on YouTube illustrates the project in more detail. In the ParcoDon effort’s first three years, it raised some CDN 23,000 for the homeless cause; organizers hope the celebrity effort will increase proceeds to CDN 40,000 over the next three years, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette. Social entrepreneurs around the globe: be inspired! (Related: ATM machines offer embedded charity with every withdrawal.) Spotted by: Murray Orange



Download PDF