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Search warrant, armed officers enforce cleanup at compost facility in Winnipeg

Conservation officers at Samborski Garden Supply in Winnipeg on Wednesday, January 14, 2014. Megan Batchelor

WINNIPEG – Manitoba Conservation officers raided the offices of a Winnipeg company Wednesday, to force the firm to remove smelly compost piles that neighbours have been complaining about for years.

Officers were at Samborski Garden Supply to enforce a cleanup order issued late last year.

“This is taking off your left arm and handcuffing your right,” complained general manager Paul Samborski. He said armed Conservation officers appeared Wednesday morning with a search warrant. He called the move “bullying.”

The company and the province have struggled for years over shutting down the facility in the RM of MacDonald, right on the edge of Winnipeg’s Fort Whyte and Whyte Ridge neighbourhoods. Other deadlines have passed but officials appear more determined to make this cleanup order stick.

“Staff from Conservation and Water Stewardship have been monitoring the clean-up efforts by Samborski, and are continuing to keep close tabs on the clean up and removal process,” the province said in a statement emailed to Global News.

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A Samborski compost truck in Winnipeg. Global News file

“Part of that process includes an examination of company records and taking samples of product still at the site and while we are determined to give the company every opportunity to comply with the Director’s order on its own, if it is determined that the company is not able to get the work done on its own, the province will take the necessary steps to remove the compost at the expense of Samborski Environmental.”

Samborski says the firm has already complied with the province’s Environmental Protection Order, having “removed all what they would consider offensive material off the property.”

“Why do we need to get served with a search warrant, why do we need two armed officers with service pistols and flak jackets sitting on site when they could have walked to the door and asked to take samples if that’s what they wanted,” Samborski said.

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The province says it’s received hundreds of complaints about the smell from residents in Fort Whyte and Whyte Ridge.

“You have to go inside because it’s like you live beside a dump,” resident Lorelei Steffler told Global News in 2013.

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Crews at work at Samborski in Winnipeg in July, 2013. Global News
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Crews at work at Samborski in Winnipeg in July, 2013. Global News
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Crews at work at Samborski in Winnipeg in July, 2013. Global News

Samborski has been composting since the early 1990’s, according to the company’s website, and by the 2000’s was managing manure from Assiniboia Downs and Assiniboine Park Zoo. It also expanded to collect organic waste from restaurants and other commercial customers.

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