New charity collection program unveiled in Fredericton

Refurbished parking metres collect money for two local charities, and read "Panhandling is not the answer."

6 'Kindness Meters', meant to crackdown on panhandling, are being installed downtown

Six so-called kindness meters have been installed in downtown Fredericton. (CBC)

Downtown Fredericton Inc. has introduced the city's latest crackdown on panhandling with the Kindness Meter program. There will be six locations throughout the city for people to donate change to two local charitable organizations.

"We want to get rid of the pan handlers, simple. But we also want to be compassionate to them to make sure they have the available services they require," said Bruce McCormack, General Manager of Downtown Fredericton Inc. 

"A customer can come downtown and if they feel like putting money in the meter, they know exactly where it's going. It's going to the kitchen and to the shelter," he said.

Bruce McCormack, the general manager for Downtown Fredericton Inc., says the meters make it easy for downtown patrons to give to local charities. (CBC)
The money collected in six refurbished parking meters placed throughout the downtown will be split 50/50 between the Fredericton Homeless Shelters and the Fredericton Community Kitchen.

"I think it's a neat initiative, certainly from our perspective anything that anybody tries to do that adds direct funding to our bottom line is incredibly welcome," said Warren Maddox, Executive Director of The Fredericton Homeless Shelters.

Therese Murray, Executive Director of the Fredericton Community Kitchen, said the program will help them continue to offer three meals a day for their visitors.

"If it helps us ensure that there's more food to put at our tables, we are pleased with the option," said Murray.

The sign on the meters reads, "panhandling is not the answer."

Reaction to the Kindness Meters has been mixed.

Fredericton resident Randy Burtch said, "I don't think it's going to change anything to be honest. The system here is thirty years behind the rest of the country."

Andrew Spencer said he doesn't think the real issues for homeless people are being addressed.

"There are some people out there for addictions reasons. This program isn't here for them," said Spencer.

Richie Young, a musician who busks on Queen Street in Fredericton, supports the program. (CBC)
Richie Young, a musician who busks on Queen Street said any way to help is a good thing.

"I think they're pretty good. It's nice to see the homeless actually get help in the city besides having to sit there on the streets panhandling."

Coun. Kate Rogers said she agreed.

"It's your choice where you give your money. With each person who walks by, whether they want to make a personal connection and give to the person directly or they are more interested in solving a problem of homelessness and hunger," said Rogers.

"It's not a punitive move."

The bright green meters will stay in place for at least two years as a pilot project.