Canada’s airports – once under federal control – were transferred to local airport authorities in 1992. There were many reasons for this, but ageing infrastructure was at the top of the list. Infrastructure investments were few and far between in the years leading up to 1992 – facilities were aging and couldn’t keep up with growing demand.

After 1992, more than $22 billion in infrastructure investments were made in Canadian airports – uplifting communities from coast to coast to coast. Harmony in motion is made possible by this modern, cutting-edge infrastructure.

“Some infrastructure investments are made to support regional economic development,” says Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council. “For example, there’s a 17,000 square metre cargo pad in Halifax that was created for the lobster industry. Economic development is part of airport mandates under the not-for-profit model.”

Airport infrastructure is so vital, some Canadian communities wouldn’t even exist without it! Gander, Newfoundland is a great example. As Gooch describes it, “Gander was developed as an airport in the 1930s. It took on significant international aviation significance in the Second World War as a refueling stop for aircraft travelling to Europe. The town grew up around the base, and today it remains a major air traffic control centre and refueling stop.”

To find other communities that depend on airports, look north. A recent report to the federal government from former cabinet minister David Emerson highlighted the vital role airports play in supplying remote communities, where “aviation is heavily relied upon to move people and goods, as well as to address medical needs.” As the report puts it, “both the northern part of the Northwest Territories and all of Nunavut rely primarily on marine transport and aviation.”

”The North, and the people living in the region are critical to our country’s future. Aviation forms the foundation of northern economic infrastructure and in understanding that, Winnipeg Airports Authority is focused on meeting their needs to enhance the region’s potential,” says Barry Rempel, president and chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Airports Authority. “Whether assisting passengers, providing cargo support or accommodating medical flights, we are committed to connecting the North with the rest of Canada and the world”.

It’s not just small communities that rely on airport infrastructure either. International airports in Canada’s seven largest metros are often the second largest employment district in their region, notes the Canadian Global Cities Council. Infrastructure is the foundation of that economic engine, and because of it, a 2013 study found that the air transportation industry (of which airports are a big part) directly employed more than 141,000 people.

“The Vancouver International Airport is committed to operating a world class sustainable airport and we have continued to invest back in our infrastructure in order to create more travel and economic opportunities for our community,” says Craig Richmond, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver International Airport.

“Upwards of 23,000 people work at the airport. We’re in the midst of planning a $5.6 billion capital investment over the next 20 years that will continue to grow our position as a major economic contributor in B.C.”

This year, on Canada’s 150th birthday, we remember the role transportation infrastructure played as the tie that bound our country. In 1867 it was a railroad that extended from east to west. Today it’s dozens and dozens of airports, whose infrastructure connects us and binds us – a harmony in motion that lifts our communities and serves as our gateway to the world.