Toronto has more cranes in use than most U.S. cities combined

New numbers from the construction industry reveal what many GTA drivers probably already know — Toronto is in a construction boom.

There are nearly 250 cranes in use in the city right now, according to the latest Crane Index from Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB). That’s more cranes than New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington. D.C., combined.

In fact, the 12 U.S. cities measured in the index had a combined 259 cranes in use compared to 238 in Toronto. Ontario’s capital has nearly 200 more cranes than second-place Seattle (51). The only other Canadian city on the index, Calgary, currently has 20 cranes in use.

RLB’s biannual crane index tracks the number of operating tower cranes in 14 major North American cities.

The report from the first quarter of 2023 showed an overall increase of cranes across all measured cities by just over seven per cent. Eight cities saw an increase in cranes, four remained at the same number, and two saw a decrease.

“The overall crane count for Toronto has increased by eight cranes, although over the last six months, 31 projects have been closed out,” reads the latest report. “This most recent crane count includes 37 brand-new projects.”

Toronto’s net increase in crane use can be attributed to an increase in 13 residential cranes. Commercial cranes actually dropped by six since the previous report.

Q1 2023 RLB Crane Index

  • Toronto – 238
  • Seattle – 51
  • Los Angeles – 47
  • Denver – 36
  • Washington D.C. -26
  • Calgary – 20
  • San Francisco – 17
  • Chicago – 14
  • Honolulu – 14
  • Portland – 14
  • Las Vegas – 12
  • New York – 10
  • Boston – 9
  • Phoenix – 9

The residential tower boom in Toronto won’t be slowing anytime soon with Ontario trying to meet a target of building 1.5 million new homes in the province by 2031. The Ford government previously gave the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa new powers to help build housing, though it’s unclear if Toronto’s new mayor will be bestowed, or accept, the “strong-mayor” powers.

“The general forecast for the construction sector in Ontario is extremely favorable,” reads RLB’s Quarterly Construction Cost Report. “There are several projects and a high demand for building, which is supported by population expansion and the need to upgrade infrastructure including new critical transportation projects.”

The construction index does say that the construction of new homes could be pushed back temporarily to make way for larger infrastructure development.

“Residential construction is being displaced by large infrastructure projects, which will probably cause completion delays,” reads the report.

To go along with the seemingly never-ending high-rise development downtown, construction is about to get markedly worse in Toronto once work on the Ontario Line commences in a couple of weeks.

The multi-billion dollar transit expansion will fully close Queen Street from Victoria to Yonge streets and Yonge to Bay streets starting on Monday, May 1, 2023.

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