The carpenter who built pallet home by Winnipeg bridge shares his story of homelessness
The man behind a homemade structure Winnipeg drivers may have noticed spring up by a bridge over Omand’s Creek on Empress Street said he knows he could be asked to leave at any time, but doesn’t want to return to sleeping in the streets.
Allan Par, a carpenter by trade, said he lost his job in 2014, four years after coming to Canada from the Philippines, to find work and to “find a better future."
He told CTV News after spending last winter under a bridge on Empress Street, he decided to build the house.
“Because I want a better sleep at night,” he said. “Because before, I don't know where I'm sleeping.”
Par has been working on the build every day for the last two months. He said he’s used wood from pallets given to him from stores for free, and purchased other materials -- like shingles, nails and cement -- with money he earned returning shopping carts to a store.
“The people there, they give me food, sometimes they give me money, and I accept that because that is the grace, right?" he said.
Par’s home is built on city property and he said he’s aware he could be given marching orders.
He said he’ll stay in the small house as long as he can and as long as he needs to. But he said his goal is to find a job and a new place to live.
Par said he has just one hope: to not end up “sleeping in the street again."
Nearby businesses react
An employee of a nearby business said the structure hasn’t gone unnoticed, but Par has been nothing but respectful.
"I'm just really impressed with it,” said Jasmine Illsley, who works at the Vapour Mill. “He's definitely a handy man. He builds it very quickly and it looks great, surprisingly."
Illsley said Par does his part to help keep the area clean.
“Omand’s Creek tends to have a lot of litter around it,” said Illsley. “He picks It up, supplies garbage bags, fills the garbage bags and leaves them to the side for the city to pick up.”
She said Par mostly keeps to himself and doesn’t disrupt anyone.
In a statement to CTV News, the City of Winnipeg said it is working with community groups to: “develop an inclusive plan for temporary encampments going forward to ensure greater consultation takes place before the city takes actions that impact those experiencing homelessness."
Adrienne Dudek is the director of housing at Main Street Project and said they are aware of Par’s situation.
In a phone call with CTV News Dudek said the Main Street Project is working with the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Police service to help people like Par who are living in temporary encampments.
Dudek said the goal is to help people improve their living situation before taking down the structures.
-With files from CTV’s Jeremie Charron