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Garden supply company looks for a new home

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When the Samborskis bought their property on McGillivray Blvd. in the RM of Macdonald in the early 1970’s they were surrounded by farmers’ fields.

Now the fourth-generation business, that sells soil, compost, sand, gravel and other landscaping and gardening supplies, is one of many industries lying along McGillivray and also directly west of the Whyte Ridge housing development. They are searching for a new location that would permit them to continue to expand composting of yard and food waste.

"We see a demand for recycling; a demand for green products," said John Samborski, adding that composting yard and food waste keeps it out of the City of Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill site which is located a few kilometers south of their property. Right now, the City doesn’t separate and compost this material.

In 1970, Allen Samborski and his sons John and Lenn relocated their family’s lawn maintenance, landscaping and snow removal business to the RM of Macdonald from within the city. At that time, they changed the main focus of their third-generation business to soil production and the company’s name to Samborski Garden Supplies.

They gradually added composting of yard and food waste to their business starting in the early 1990’s when they began managing horse bedding and manure from several riding stables in Winnipeg, from Assiniboia Downs beginning in 2002 and the Winnipeg Zoo in 2004. In November 2007 they wanted to further expand their composting initiatives so began accepting food waste, including potato waste from Old Dutch Foods in Winnipeg.  They also offer commercial and residential collection composting services.

The proximity of the huge Brady Road landfill site and residential housing has caused trouble for the Samborskis. When a south wind blows on a warm summer day, residents in southwest Winnipeg start calling the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba Conservation to complain about garbage odours. Some callers attributed the unpleasant smell to outdoor composting done at Samborski Garden Supplies.

Because of continuing complaints, on July 18, the company was ordered by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship to remove compostable material from their property by Aug. 8. However prior to Aug. 8, they reached an agreement allowing them to accept material at their current site for transfer to a licensed composting facility with the mature compost being returned to them so they can sell it.

A provincial spokesperson for Manitoba Conservation confirmed that an agreement with the Samborskis was reached, stating that any new compost material is to be diverted to a licensed composting facility. Odours on existing piles must be minimized.

As well, the enforcement of the previously issued order is on hold while Manitoba Conservation determines if this new arrangement reduces the odour issue for local residences and businesses.

While this agreement allows them to stay in business, the Samborskis want to find a new location large enough to accommodate their entire operation and to continue outdoor composting. With this goal in mind, they worked with the landowner to seek approval from the RM of Macdonald councilors to issue a conditional use permit on 75 acres of agricultural land immediately west and adjacent to the Brady Road landfill.

"It doesn’t make sense for us to be here," said Lenn. The new location lies next to the Perimeter Highway so provides good transportation access. "We’ve been trying for almost four years to get off this land."

Their fourth and most recent conditional use application was denied on Aug. 14. "We didn’t see it as a fit with the municipality," said RM councillor Brad Erb.

Reeve Rodney Burns agreed with Erb, adding, "There’s been a lot of complaints about smell. We felt that we would be moving something from one site to another site."

Burns said it makes more sense for the Samborskis to move their composting operation to a location within the Brady Road landfill site.

John confirmed that they had investigated the possibility of partnering with the City of Winnipeg to construct a facility within the landfill, but received legal advice recommending against entering into this agreement.

"There’s only so many places we can be," said Lenn. "You want to be close to the market."

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