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

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. Resident’s at the home were the first in Quesnel to receive COVID-19 vaccines. (Submitted Photo)
COLUMN: Vaccine floodgates should be opened

This editor’s column first appeared in the April 14 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. girl’s wish granted as her cat came back, two years later

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

Most Read