Toronto has more cranes than NYC and Los Angeles combined

The view of Toronto from a Comedil 250 tower crane. The crane is one of 97 tower cranes operating in the city this summer. Photo by Adam Chiarot

Toronto has more tower cranes decorating its skyline than New York City and Los Angeles combined.

This summer, real estate consultant Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) released its third quarter crane index. The report is generated by counting cranes in major cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Cranes in Toronto

For the third consecutive crane index, Toronto has the highest number of cranes of all the cities surveyed with 97, an increase of nine cranes compared to the last count by the consulting firm.

The Toronto construction market continues to be led by the residential sector, which makes up more than 86 per cent of the total crane count, according to RLB. Other active construction sectors include mixed-use and commercial developments, followed by education, healthcare and hospitality.

The crane count in Toronto is expected to continue to climb, as the city will see a boost in infrastructure spending. More than 400 high-rise projects have been proposed, adding to the city’s crane count.

In New York City, RLB counted 20 cranes, a small increase compared to the previous count of 18. The increase is attributable to new projects breaking ground at a steady pace; the current count shows 11 cranes on mixed-use development sites, three in transportation projects and three in the commercial sector.

In Los Angeles, the crane count held from January 2018. While 22 of LA’s 36 cranes are in use for mixed-use projects, there are several projects in other sectors that are shaping the skyline. Several infrastructure projects, including three bridges, and a new concourse at LAX, are underway. As well, cultural projects like the new Lucas Museum and a $40 million facelift for the city’s music centre, will boost LA’s crane count.

Seattle in second

Seattle placed second in the crane count, with 65 cranes city-wide, 20 more than the previous survey. Cranes are erected in Seattle for a variety of uses, including 27 cranes for mixed-use, 17 for residential projects and 11 for commercial applications.

The crane count in Calgary has grown from the 22 crane installations to 26. An increase in employment and new infrastructure projects, including a ring road and a light-rail line, help boost the city’s strong residential sector.

With two-thirds of the city’s construction activity is in multifamily buildings, with 6,500 units currently being built, 18 cranes are dedicated to the residential sector. As well, the Calgary Cancer Centre, a $1.4 billion healthcare facility, will add jobs and services to the city. Other major projects include 500,000 to 1 million square-foot warehouses and two community recreation centres.

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Throughout the 13 cities surveyed by RLB, the crane count found residential construction accounted for 45 per cent of the total crane count.

Mixed-used construction accounted for the second highest number of cranes, accounting for more than 27 per cent of machines in North America. Commercial construction accounted for 12 per cent of the crane count.

Overall, North America recorded a net increase in total cranes in the sky, despite a scarce labour market, an increase in interest rates and new tariffs on materials. RLB predicts that number will continue to grow into 2019.