Monica and John Oshvalda have been running a greenhouse, diner and a facility that hosts a weekly cowboy church for years on their land west of Edmonton, Alberta.
They have invested thousands of dollars again to start plants in January to be ready for eager gardeners, accumulating thousands of dollars in natural gas charges each month heating the greenhouses to keep their seedlings alive to be ready for the busy season. In fact, the spring and summer sales at the greenhouse have to be enough to carry them through the rest of the year.
But just one week before the greenhouse was slated to open for the season, with their buildings full of seedlings, bureaucrats from Parkland County pulled the plug on Mo-Jo's, preventing them from opening.
The local government says this year, after all these years in operation, Monica and John, don't have the right permits. John and Monica showed me all their building permits, their architectural reports, health inspections, and business permits and licences. They even showed me the awards they were given by the municipality for their business.
So what's going on here?
Mojo's stood up to the lockdown last year. When the government said the Oshvaldas had to close their last spring diner to stop the spread of the coronavirus, they resisted as long as they could, until the threats from Alberta Health Services became too great. They were lockdown renegades.
And now the Oshvaldas think their previous act of defiance has a lot to do with the bureaucratic municipal crackdown now. They claim it's vengeance for pushing back on the government last year. Worse still, they can't seem to get a straight answer from the government about what they are expected to do to make things right. They are willing to jump through the hoops but no one will tell them what the hoops are.
And they are not closing their greenhouses either. They stand to lose too much if they do. They are barely treading water now.
The actions of the government over the past two years have left them little remaining to lose and no incentive to comply anymore.