On-Site Magazine

Toronto remains unrivalled in North American construction crane count

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July 17, 2019 by David Kennedy

A series of cranes at the mixed-use development known as the Well at Front Street and Spadina Avenue. The downtown site that once contained The Globe and Mail building is one of the largest in the country

TORONTO—From the massive excavation site that once housed The Globe and Mail building on Front Street, to the trio of cranes stretched over the former home of Honest Ed’s on Bloor Street, construction activity in Toronto shows few signs of slowing.

The seemingly endless list of new residential, office and mix-use projects have helped elevate the city’s building industry to one of the busiest on the continent over the past several years.

Six months into 2019, little has changed. By one prominent benchmark, Rider Levett Bucknall Ltd.’s Crane Index, Toronto remains unrivalled. According to the consulting firm’s latest biannual crane count, more than twice as many of the pieces of heavy construction equipment are at work in Toronto than in any other North American metropolis.

Crane counters spotted 120 cranes spread across the skyline in Canada’s most populous city in the July report, up 16 from the previous count in January. The city has held onto the top spot in the index since 2017, though the count does overlook several major North American cities, most notably Mexico City, Houston, Montreal and Vancouver.

“The spring season has seen an increase in cranes in Toronto’s downtown; however, most development is happening outside the core area,” the report notes. “Currently, residential and mixed-use projects command the local construction market; in the future, increased infrastructure spending is anticipated to trigger additional activity.”

Trailing Toronto in a dead heat for second place in the rankings are Los Angeles and Seattle, which each boast 49 cranes. Calgary, which also happens to be the only other Canadian city measured, placed fourth with 34 cranes. Portland’s 30 cranes round out the July report’s top five cities.

In Calgary, which had one more crane than it did six months ago, RLB pointed to new high-rise multifamily projects as the root cause. It added that ongoing work on office, mixed-use, commercial, health care and infrastructure work has kept crews engaged.


The July 2019 crane count in the 13 cities tracked:

Toronto – 120
Los Angeles – 49
Seattle – 49
Calgary – 34
Portland – 30
Washington D.C. – 28
Chicago – 27
New York City – 27
San Francisco – 23
Denver – 18
Boston – 14
Honolulu – 4
Phoenix – 3