Toronto holds top spot in 2024 RLB Crane Index

A tower crane on a housing development with a rainbow in the background

Toronto continues to lead Rider Levett Bucknall’s (RLB) biannual crane index for North America. However, data indicates the GTA is facing a slowdown in construction activity.

The crane count in Toronto decreased by 19 cranes from the last report to a current total of 221 cranes. Los Angeles placed in a distant second place with 50 tower cranes.

“It is worth noting that the first quarter of 2024 has set a record by marking the lowest number of cranes in Toronto since 2022, signaling a slowdown in overall construction activity,” the RLB report explained.

Toronto is seeing construction reach completion on multiple commercial building projects. The commercial sector saw the most significant drop, with a reduction of 10 cranes, while the hospitality sector recorded a five-crane decease.  

Contrary to those declines, the residential sector continues to grow, with residential and mixed-use projects continuing to dominate the crane count, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cranes in the city.

Calgary, alongside Las Vegas and Los Angeles, were the only cities to record an increase in cranes.

In Calgary this quarter, one new crane was erected for a total count of 20. Most of the cranes are being used on residential projects.

The Crane index notes that despite labour concerns, Calgary’s housing starts hit record highs in 2023, with the municipality receiving 21,317 applications for building permits, contributing $5.96 billion in residential and non-residential construction value to Calgary’s economy.

The RLB crane index counts tower cranes in 14 key markets. Overall, the beginning of 2024 shows a continued downward trend in cranes, with 9 per cent less since the Q3 2023 report, and an 18 per cent decrease year-over-year.

Most of the cranes continue to be stationed at residential or mixed-use projects, making up 73 per cent of the overall count.

Of the 14 cities surveyed: seven experienced a decrease of greater than 20 per cent, three cities increased and four held steady.

“Despite the continued downturn in cranes, we remain cautiously optimistic,” RLB said in its report. “Ongoing investment in manufacturing and infrastructure will help offset any decline in privately funded projects in 2024. Overall, construction spending will be driven by public funding for manufacturing and infrastructure projects.”