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

Teen charged with possession of a loaded firearm after incident at Whalley park

Surrey RCMP say 17-year-old boy allegedly found in possession of loaded handgun

Pug life: Waggish dog names listed in White Rock

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered with the city

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

White Rock council seeks full report on emergency systems

Spectre of Lac-Megantic disaster raised in discussion of derailment risks

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.

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — still affected

Case of man charged in fatal Salmon Arm church shooting adjourned until May

Matrix Savage Gathergood charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault

Most Read