James, a homeless man, rests inside his new plywood structure on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The box was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

James, a homeless man, rests inside his new plywood structure on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The box was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Homeless man says ‘thank you’ to Chilliwack firefighters for building him a shelter

City of Chilliwack received several calls this week from people concerned about James’ safety

“Thank you.”

Those were the two words one Chilliwack homeless man spoke when asked what he wanted to say to the people who built him a wooden structure to protect him from the freezing winter elements.

James has been living on the streets of Chilliwack for years. He has been sleeping on Vedder Road, on the sidewalk outside the BC Liquor Store in Sardis.

But on Thursday (Feb. 11) James had a new place to sleep.

A structure, made from standard sized sheets of plywood, was set up outside the liquor store. It was built by folks from the Chilliwack Fire Department and the plywood was donated by Canex Building Supplies.

The simple, rectangular structure is raised a few inches off the ground and is open on one end. Styrofoam covers the floor to add cushioning and warmth for James.

A man drops something off for James, a homeless man, on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The plywood structure he’s in was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A man drops something off for James, a homeless man, on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The plywood structure he’s in was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

On Thursday afternoon, James was lying down in the wooden structure when The Progress spoke with him.

Inside the box, the sub-zero winter winds were not felt – it was warm.

James was resting under a green sleeping bag. A gently used winter coat sat at the entrance and just outside the structure were a handful of coffee cups and some take-out bags of food.

The Progress chatted briefly with James and asked if he had anything else to say to the Good Samaritans who made the structure for him.

“No. Just thank you,” he said.

RELATED: Chilliwack one of six communities to receive homelessness funds from the feds

The City of Chilliwack has received several calls this week from people concerned about James’ safety with the recent Arctic outflow weather.

On Thursday Mayor Ken Popove wrote a letter to Dr. Victoria Lee, president of Fraser Health Authority, requesting they assess and evaluate James in person to see if there is any way to get him out of the cold.

“We are aware that James refuses to seek shelter indoors at any of the available facilities in Chilliwack during the extreme cold and we are hopeful that Fraser Health will take the necessary steps to help him,” said Jamie Leggatt, director of communications with the city.

RELATED: Chilliwack has highest rate of homeless women in B.C.: advocate


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HomelessHomelessness

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

Just Posted

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
MY COVID STORY: From doctor to patient

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner
Kaslo performer collects stories of Black rural experience

Shayna Jones will create a performance piece about Black people ‘tucked away in the countryside’

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read