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An Open Letter, From Jenna

I was recently approached by the Petrolia Independent, and asked to share my thoughts about the latest government shutdown and the impact it’s had on the golf course.

Believe it or not, I had a lot of thoughts and feelings to untangle. So I took some time (and several deep breaths) to reflect on what’s happening, because my initial reactions may not have been appropriate to print in the local newspaper.

After taking the time to sit with how I felt, I wrote a response and submitted it in the form of a letter to the editor, which I’m also sharing here:



Over the last year, we have seen unprecedented actions taken by the government of Ontario and Canada to “keep us safe”.  From my perspective, those actions have done something much different.

I own Crabby Joe’s in Petrolia. Ten years ago, we built the restaurant from the ground up –  back in 2011, Petrolia didn’t have a full-service restaurant that was open past 8pm, let alone 7 days a week. The goal was to help revitalize and build business on the main street so that one day it could support my childhood dream of building a hotel in downtown Petrolia.


A lot has happened since then, and I have been very intentional about using my experience as a foundation to grow and pursue new challenges.

The hotel was originally scheduled to be built by 2020, but the universe had a different plan. In September of 2019, my husband Joe and I were blessed with our third son in four years, which extended the hotel build timelines longer than originally planned.

Six months later we found ourselves at the doorstep of a pandemic. The quoted price of the hotel build increased by 40%, which rendered the project unrealistic for the foreseeable future. After so much time, money and effort, this was definitely a blow.

At the same time, we were experiencing huge government restrictions at the restaurant, forcing us to lay off most of our staff while experiencing plummeting sales. It really was devastating.


Amidst that turmoil, the opportunity to buy the golf course presented itself.

Although the timing seemed crazy (April 2020), we felt strongly that this was the right thing to do. We got creative and made it happen, and we are so grateful that we did.

To improve and revitalize this hallowed and historic piece of land felt like the opportunity of a lifetime.

A couple weeks ago, we heard the news that the government of Ontario thought it would be wise to shut down golf courses, along with another list “non-essential” businesses and services.

Having already experienced these crushing measures for over a year, we know what this really means for our business.  We still have a property to maintain, work to do. We need people to do that. Without any cash coming in, it can be difficult.

We’re diving into the reserves to make these things happen, because we know that it is essential – that we are all essential. The golf course is a healthy and safe space, where we encourage people to clear their minds and get in touch with Mother Nature.

It’s a welcome break to the fear-based narrative that we hear every moment on many mainstream media outlets.

It’s a place where we want our community to feel relaxed and open.

From my perspective, these shutdowns are not protecting us from harm. They’ve created a huge divide between us. To mask or not to mask? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? To stay closed during shutdown, or defy the government and open? Questions like these are creating so much damage – in our country, in our community, but worst of all right within our own families.

On one hand, I want to defy the government regulations and stay open, to stand up and set an example for those who can’t.

On the other hand, I understand that the trust and goodwill that I’ve been so intentional about fostering is paramount. I don’t want to do anything to compromise that.

What’s the right decision? I feel like I’m being squeezed tighter and tighter, and soon I’m going to burst. I can’t express to you enough how exhausting “pivoting” the business every time Doug Ford gets on the mic has been. When everything you have built can be so easily ruined at the whim of a tyrannical politician, I wonder what country and decade we are living in.

So, to answer your question – how do I feel about the recent shutdown of the golf course?

I feel sick about it. I want to open the doors and let the people choose what is right for them. I highly value freedom of choice, and am incredulous that I am the one telling our friends and neighbours they are not allowed to enjoy the places and spaces we have to offer, for fear I will be fined or arrested. I am in disbelief that we are living in times where the police have special privileges to ensure that we’re abiding by these “laws”.  It’s not right, and something must change.

And.

I commit to staying positive and finding the opportunity within the adversity.

I commit to thinking critically before making a decision that could further impact my businesses – the ones that I have loved, grown, and sacrificed for.

I commit to putting love and kindness over anything else.

I commit to keep trying to figure this out, even if the path is not clear.

I commit to doing my best, and am so grateful for the years of support from this strong, dynamic community.

Here, we will find the support we need to rise up, because commUNITY is the only way.

With love and respect,

Jenna Gorzeman

Owner
Kingswell Glen Golf Club & Crabby Joe’s Petrolia


Kingswell Glen will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

We’re committed to focusing on what we can do — and are making the most of this downtime by continuing to improve the course and grounds we’re so proud of so that things will be better than ever when we are able to open our doors again.

In the meantime, you can stay connected to what’s happening at Kingswell Glen (and in the town of Petrolia!) by signing up for our newsletter list.

Because being a part of Kingswell Glen is about so much more than just the golf.