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.

Just Posted

Ladysmith author explores community as The Moon Watched It All

Shelley A. Leedahl releasing her latest work, an illustrated tale for all ages

What do you want to see done with Ladysmith’s old train station?

Island Corridor Foundation meets with community to discuss the future of the Railway Station

Easter Fun Day

Kids fill their baskets with treats Saturday at Fuller Lake Park

Mad scramble for Easter treats

Crofton Easter Egg Hunt brings out hordes of kids and massive bunny chases

Mandatory spaying and neutering looms for outdoor Chemainus cats

North Cowichan considers bylaw to control stray and feral cat issues

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Climate action can’t be a partisan issue, say Greens

Green Party of Canada celebrated Earth Day early in Nanaimo

Fisheries and oceans minister spends Earth Day in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Jonathan Wilkinson in riding to support candidate Michelle Corfield

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Most Read