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.

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

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer trailer, camera, tools, cigarettes and cleaning supplies

Parksville, Nanoose Bay feature prominently among 226 complaints to Oceanside RCMP

Mary Ellen Campbell, president of the Parksville Museum, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: A chat with Parksville Museum president Mary Ellen Campbell

Podcast: Talk includes plans for 2021, dealing with COVID-19 and more

Eaglecrest Golf Club plans to operate as a nine-hole course starting April 1. (Eaglecrest Facebook photo)
Eaglecrest Golf Club in Qualicum Beach still plans to have course layout reduced to 9 holes

Town council continues to negotiate lease for 18-hole operation

A rendering of a proposed housing development located across from the beachfront in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Multi-residential development planned across from Qualicum Beach waterfront

Residents raise variety of concerns about project

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read