02/03/2015 11:03 EST | Updated 04/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Manitoba government moves in to settle stink over compost operation

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government has taken over removal of compost material from a Winnipeg business that's generated hundreds of odour complaints and been raided by armed natural resource officers.

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship says in a release that it's exercising its authority under the Environment Act to clean up the Samborski Environmental Ltd. site in south Winnipeg in accordance with an environmental protection order.

The order stated that if the company did not move the material to another pre-approved or properly licensed location, the province could take over the job and recover the costs from Samborski.

The government says the company has failed to show satisfactory progress in removing the compost, and a provincially hired contractor has taken over the job.

Samborski collects organic waste to produce compost, but more than 500 complaints have come in over the past five years from area residents about excessive odour from the operation.

Officers showed up at the business on Jan. 14 to enforce a Dec. 1, 2014 final deadline to stop accepting new material and remove all existing compost.

The government says the contractor it hired has started the cleanup, and it's expected that all material covered under the order will be moved by the end of February.

Paul Samborski, the company's general manager, said at the time of the raid that having armed officers move in on the business was overkill and "bullying."

Don Labossiere, director of environmental compliance with Manitoba Conservation, said procedures for acting on a search warrant were followed to the letter, including sending officers with sidearms.

Neighbours had mixed reactions to the size of the operation and the presence of firearms, but agreed the stench from the site was overpowering.