By Charlie Pinkerton, The London Free Press
A new set of parking meters is up and running in downtown London, but they’re there to give your money instead of take it.
They’re called Kindness Meters and after nearly two years of lobbying by London’s Lincoln McCardle, they’ve finally arrived.
“I’m relieved, happy, delighted and tickled pink just to have these five in and finally get it off the ground,” said McCardle.
The refurbished parking meters were set up in downtown parks this week. There, passing Londoners can deposit their change, which will be collected and distributed to local charities.
McCardle was taken by surprise Thursday when the city told him they had been erected. He’s been working towards setting the meters up in London since he and his wife saw Kindness Meters in downtown Ottawa on Canada Day 2015.
First, he proposed the idea to Awesome London, an organization that funds projects in the city, but their collaboration fell through. He then took the idea to local businesses, but the legal problems over a private citizen owning parking meters snuffed those plans. Next, McCardle proposed the idea to the city and Downtown London acquired several on his behalf. It had them repainted and prepped before lock-changing issues landed the meters back in McCardle’s hands.
He pitched the idea to the city again through Ward 13 Decides, a neighbourhood decision project, and won the contest at the end of last year. Until this week, he had been waiting on the city.
“I was as surprised as anyone else,” said McCardle.
The Salvation Army will collect donations from the meters on a weekly basis. It will keep 40 per cent of donations for its own charitable purposes and disperse the rest to local groups dedicated to supporting those who suffer from poverty or homelessness.
“It gives the typical person that warm and fuzzy feeling inside and they’re going to empty their pockets because they know it’s going to go towards something that’s really needed in London,” said Shannon Wise, a spokesperson for the Ontario Great Lakes Division of The Salvation Army.
You can find the meters in Victoria, West Lions, Ivey, Piccadilly and Mitchell A. Baran parks.
“I put a quarter in this morning. If that’s the only quarter that’s ever raised, I’ll be happy, because it’s a quarter that wasn’t raised before,” said McCardle.