Opposition grows to planned closure of Port Rowan’s only gas station

An online petition to protest the planned closure of Port Rowan’s only gas station has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.

Port Rowan resident Bryan Forbes launched the petition after news broke that Parkland Retail Canada — a multinational company that markets and supplies major gas chains like Esso and Pioneer — had decided to close the Esso station in the small Norfolk County town on March 31.

In a statement to media and in response to inquiries from concerned residents, the company said the station in Port Rowan is “no longer finically viable” due to “a variety of commercial reasons.”

“Decisions to close any retail location are never taken lightly,” the company said.

“We appreciate that this station is important to those in the community and understand that people will be disappointed with the closing.”

But residents like Forbes say the station is a lifeline for locals and visitors to the lakeside cottage community, who will have to leave town to get gas or use an ATM once the station closes.

The Esso station houses the bank machine that was left after the town’s CIBC branch closed in 2018.

The nearest gas station is about eight kilometres away, south of Walsingham on Highway 59.

“Unlike the cities, we don’t have a gas station on every corner, and it does matter to us, as well as our locals that were employed there,” Forbes wrote on the petition’s webpage.

He encouraged residents upset with the decision to call and email Parkland head office and urge them to reconsider.

“With record profits in these difficult times, I certainly can’t understand (how) the powers that be can justify closing our only gas station that is always busy,” Forbes said, noting the Esso was well-used by visitors to the nearby provincial campgrounds, trailer parks, and Long Point beach.

Norfolk Mayor Amy Martin told reporters her office was preparing a letter to send to the company outlining a business case to keep the station open.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator