REGINA —Frustrated over flood waters in the Souris Rover that travelled from Saskatchewan into their city earlier this summer, some residents of Minot, North Dakota, put up a billboard this week to — as the Oscar-nominated songs says — blame Canada.
On Thursday, a billboard briefly appeared in Minot that read, “Canada . . . next time keep your DAM water,” in reference to the record level of water that flowed down the Souris from Saskatchewan and into Minot, flooding hundreds of homes in both jurisdictions.
But the billboard disappeared almost as quickly as it went up. After pressure from City of Minot and tourism officials, the company that owns the billboard, Newman Signs, had it down by the late afternoon.
The billboard showed up around six weeks after rumours of Canadians being mistreated in Minot surfaced north of the border. Those rumours proved to be unfounded, but the billboard proved there are at least a few in the city who held some animosity toward their neighbours to the north.
It’s not known exactly who paid for the billboard. Newman Signs would only tell KMOT-TV in Minot that a group of citizens bought the advertisement.
“(We were) very unhappy,” said Minot city manager David Waind.
“The billboard doesn’t reflect the community . . . There’s some folks who have misplaced anger. By and large, people here recognize that this water flooded Saskatchewan, it flooded North Dakota and it flooded Manitoba — a lot of folks were damaged by this flood — and we’re all in the boat together.”
After more than 11,000 people — a quarter of Minot’s population — were forced from their homes in late June, many in the city had to deal with not only the cleanup, but stories about Canadian visitors having tires slashed and vehicles keyed or being harassed and not being served at local businesses.
But Capt. Jason Olson of the Minot Police Dept. went through vandalism and harassment calls when the rumours first surfaced and didn’t find a single one reported by a Canadian.
Even so, hotels, restaurants, retail stores and other businesses in Minot had to attempt to increase Canadian confidence in coming to the city.
Wendy Howe, executive director of the Minot Convention & Visitors Bureau, estimated there was a 10 to 20 per cent drop in visits by Canadians. Howe attributed that to tourists simply wanting to show respect while flood-relief efforts took place, but she also fielded calls from Canadians who feared for their safety if they were to travel to Minot.
It is estimated that Canadians spend around $271 million in North Dakota every year.
U.S.’s ‘keep your DAM water’ sign blames Canada for flood | News | National Post