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)

Well-known Chilliwack homeless man says ‘thank you’ to firefighters for building him a shelter

Drivers on Vedder Road will recognize James who is grateful for the help to get out of the cold

“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


 

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Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
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