Toronto crane count

Toronto has the highest number of construction cranes in North America

If you've been outside in downtown Toronto literally just once over the past five years, I don't need to tell you that we have a lot of construction cranes in the sky.

The New York Times doesn't need to tell you that either, but it's nice of them to validate what everyone who lives here has long suspected about the situation: It's extreme.

Toronto has more cranes in the sky at present than any other city in North America according to a recent report from the surveying firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB).

With an estimated 97 active construction cranes as of July 2018, Toronto has more than double the number of cranes of Chicago, four times as many as San Francisco, and nearly five times as many cranes in the sky as New York City.

RLB's most recent North American Crane Index puts Toronto far ahead of even its closest competitor, Seattle (65 cranes) in terms of volume, and that doesn't account for "mobile cranes attached to trucks" — only fixed cranes at construction sites.

Of all 97 qualifying cranes in Toronto, 85 are being used to construct residential buildings (read: condos, typically) or mixed-use properties, which will contain residential as well as office or retail space.

"For the third consecutive reporting period, Toronto has the highest number of cranes of all the cities surveyed in this edition of the Index: 97, an increase over the last count of 88," reads the RLB report.

"The market continues to be led by the residential sector, which makes up over 86% of the total crane count."

The other 14 per cent of cranes are reportedly being used for commercial developments and in the sectors of education, healthcare and hospitality.

"Looking ahead, Toronto is expected to see a boost in spending on infrastructure, which is anticipated to trigger an increase in construction activity," says the report. "More than 400 high-rise projects have been proposed, adding to the city’s dynamic skyline."

So, more cranes are in store — but it's important to note that the number of buildings under construction doesn't necessarily correlate with the number of cranes we see outside.

Some under-construction towers are surrounded by cranes (there are at least 3 at the CIBC Square project in Toronto's Southcore neighbourhood right now).

RLB only counts cranes that are fixed in place. Adding in all of the mobile cranes (ones that can be moved from place to place) would boost the numbers significantly, not only in Toronto but across the continent.

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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