Toronto continues to lead North America in tower crane activity

tower crane

In major cities across North America, Toronto continues to lead the pack in tower crane activity.

According to the Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index for North America, Toronto accounts for 43 per cent of active tower cranes, followed by Los Angles, Seattle and Washington D.C., which all account for 9 per cent each of the total count.

The index, which is published by the real estate consulting firm biannually, tracks the number of operating tower cranes in 14 major cities across the United States and Canada. 

Toronto has recorded a 68 per cent increase in its tower crane count since the previous index, adding 84 more cranes.

In 2020, there were 20,000 condominium starts, which accounts for the majority of the cranes.

Toronto also recorded a significant jump in commercial and mixed-use developments. As well, the projects were slated for the past few years and were not impacted by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. 

However, the Crane Index notes the pandemic has contributed to a reduction in people moving to the Toronto area, which will lower demand for new housing. In the near term, according to Rider Levett Bucknall, this could mean a reduction in condominium construction starts. Another possible consequence of COVID-19 is a shift toward permanent remote working, which may reduce the demand for commercial office space. 

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In Calgary, the only other Canadian city included in the Crane Index, the number of tower cranes has increased slightly.

With Calgary’s residential market beginning to rebound, the city has five new cranes at high-rise multi-family buildings. As well, a total of four cranes are now operating at the Bow River Bridge as one has been added. The project is a key component in the Calgary Ring Road project. 

Overall, the survey reports an increase of tower cranes from its previous count, with the count increasing by 71 cranes.

Of the 14 cities surveyed, seven recorded an increase in tower cranes, four are holding steady; and three saw significant decreases in crane activity, ranging from reduction of 44 per cent to 54 per cent. 

The crane count appears to have rebounded from its previous dip, exceeding its count from this time last year. Rider Levett Bucknall notes tower cranes installed at residential and mixed-use projects increase to 69 per cent of the overall count. The commercial sector has also seen an aggressive increase since the previous Crane Index. 

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