At their annual meeting today, July 11, in Halifax, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for local government called for continued collective dialogue with the municipal sector on common interests, such as infrastructure funding, relationships with Aboriginal peoples, and enhancing the strength and vitality of urban, rural and northern municipalities and communities. “As provincial and territorial ministers, we want to continue to meet and collaborate with municipal associations because we recognize the important role municipalities in Canada play in helping solve some of our greatest challenges,” said meeting chair Jamie Muir, Nova Scotia’s minister responsible for local government. “It is important that we collectively engage our municipal partners, and municipal associations, to help find solutions to these issues.” Ministers understand that strong and viable municipalities and communities are vital to the strength and health of each province and territory. Ministers also heard first-hand from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities about key issues and challenges facing municipalities. Building on substantial work already started in this area, the ministers have directed officials to meet this fall to further define challenges and identify potential solutions. Ministers noted that all governments have contributed significantly to addressing infrastructure needs and acknowledge that municipalities and communities continue to face pressures. There are ongoing and emerging funding challenges such as the implementation of the proposed national wastewater strategy. Therefore, increased collaboration with all partners is required to meet these challenges. Provincial and territorial ministers discussed the importance of constructive, co-operative municipal/Aboriginal relationships. Therefore, provinces and territories will work with the municipalities and communities and will encourage them to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal peoples. Ministers also recognize the importance of engaging municipalities in provincial and territorial climate change initiatives and that the municipal sector has an important role to play in this issue. To this end, ministers support sharing information across provinces and territories on leading policies and programs that address greenhouse gas emissions and the inevitable effects of climate change. Ministers also heard from Gordon McBean, an expert in climate change. The next annual meeting of ministers is in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009.