Greg Sabatino photo Brian Owen and his dog, Jake, are comfortable at the Lakeside Hotel currently while they wait for the pickup truck he’s been living in for the past five months to receive some necessary repairs. Owen said he’s thankful for the support he’s received from the community after a concerned resident made a Facebook post about his well being as temperatures hovered around -30C this week.

‘I wasn’t expecting so much’: Community steps into help B.C. man living in his truck

In the cold depths of winter, Brian Owen and his dog have been living in his pickup truck in Williams Lake

A 65-year-old homeless man is astounded by the generosity and support shown to him and his dog, Jake, in Williams Lake.

Up until last Saturday evening Brian Owen had been living in his pickup truck in city limits.

But when temperatures began dipping to near the -30 C mark and a Williams Lake resident and her husband expressed concern for his wellbeing on social media, a chain of events transpired resulting in him being housed in a local motel and being reunited with his half sister on Vancouver Island.

“It wasn’t something I was even remotely considering happening,” said Owen, who grew up and attended school in Williams Lake before moving away to the Lower Mainland for school in the 1970s.

“When Christine [Habsburg] and Marcel [Habsburg] showed up I had a certain amount I could maybe get a hotel room with and get a weekly rate for this cold spell. But they came along and said they’d arranged to have a hotel room for a couple nights for me and I was blown away. I was reluctant to accept it at first.”

In the meantime, Christine’s Facebook post went viral locally. Donations began pouring in which, by Tuesday afternoon, had reached above $1,700, along with clothing, groceries, meals and dog food.

READ MORE: Community effort to help homeless senior and dog in extreme weather reunites family

Owen’s half sister living on Vancouver Island also saw the post, and reached out to Christine to see if he would be willing to come and live with her at her home.

“The last time I saw her in person was 25 years ago,” Owen said.

“We had talked in 2007 by phone, but that was the last time I’d talked to her. She had lymphatic cancer and she didn’t want to take the treatments. I wasn’t sure if she would survive, but she did.”

Owen arrived in Williams Lake at the end of July from Alberta looking for work and a place to live, and said he always loved the area and considered it home.

While attempting to save money, on top of a small, reduced pension for some necessary repairs to the truck which he was living in, Owen was unsuccessful in finding work.

In early December the insurance on his truck expired.

“I was looking for a place to rent, but with Jake we weren’t able to get any subsidized housing,” he said. “There were places, but they are $700 to $750 a month and on a $960 pension that doesn’t leave much for anything else.”

Over the last six months Owen has been utilizing the Salvation Army for meals and showers, and the local library and thrift stores for books to keep him occupied.

Owen and his canine companion, an 11-year-old border collie, have been inseparable since Owen got him when he was a puppy in Calgary.

When he found out how much the community had donated to help him, he was in shock.

“Now I just hope I can get my truck in to get repairs in the next couple of days and get to the Island to see my sister,” he said.

“I just want to thank everyone so much,” he said.

“It’s greatly appreciated, and I wasn’t expecting so much. People have been coming down, dropping off food, clothes and things to help me get my truck back on the road to get down to my sister’s place.”

Christine, meanwhile, said the community should be commended.

“Everybody’s contributed above and beyond,” she said. “I think he’s a very proud man who has encountered some very unfortunate circumstances, and I’m so glad we caught him at the beginning of this cold snap.”

Habsburg said the donated money will be used to repair the man’s windshield, a fan and, possibly, brakes.

“All I did was state that a man needed warmth and all of these beautiful souls stepped up and made this small miracle possible,” she said.

“They deserve the credit for all of this. I’m brought to tears at their kindness and generosity.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cities shouldn’t be on hook for highway interchanges they don’t own, Abbotsford mayor says

‘We’re supposed to pay for infrastructure that we don’t own,’ Abbotsford mayor says

UFV Cascades parting ways with men’s basketball head coach Adam Friesen

Friesen had been with the team for eight seasons, reasoning behind move unclear

Unnamed UFV professor found to have engaged in academic misconduct

University won’t release name of faculty member found to have breached academic policy

Yale Lions, Abbotsford Panthers competing in provincial semifinals tonight

Senior basketball teams can advance to provincial final with wins tonight in Langley

LETTER: Mayor Braun’s $8 billion transit plan will take too long to complete

‘We deserve better than having to sit in traffic for decades waiting for alternative transit to be built’

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Dragon boating changes lives for Spirit Abreast paddlers

The Cultus Lake based team is looking to fill a boat with breast cancer survivors and supporters.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Most Read