Photo: James Bombales

Toronto is North America’s fourth-largest city, but it’s tops when it comes to the number of cranes soaring high above its rapidly changing urban centre.

There are 104 cranes set up in Toronto’s core, according to construction consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall’s latest Crane Index, which counts the presence of the lofty lifters in the 13 cities it has offices in around North America.

Not only was that up from 97 in July and the highest total recorded during the most recent January survey period, it was more than RLB tallied in America’s three biggest cities combined.

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There were 28 cranes in New York, 44 in LA and 26 in Chicago. The closest city by crane count to Toronto was Seattle, where 59 cranes are perched. Construction in the tech-industry city that is home to Amazon’s headquarters has been steady of late, and RLB anticipates continued activity.

“[S]everal major projects are slated to start construction, including renovations to Key Arena and an addition to the Washington State Convention Center,” notes RLB in the index report.

While the index only tracks what are called tower cranes, which are bolted to a foundation, sometimes these are used for other big projects. “For example, a stadium might not be tall, however, it is a major project so it may require a tower crane,” Cathy Sewell, principal at RLB, tells Livabl in an email.

RLB attributes Toronto’s clustering of cranes to housing projects as well as mixed-use developments, which could include condo towers with retail or office components.

“Heading into 2019, increased infrastructure spending is anticipated to trigger additional activity, with more than 400 high-rise buildings on the docket for development,” the RLB report reads.

“We are seeing a trend, where the cranes installed in the Toronto Core, and losing ground by percentage compared to the number of cranes being erected outside the downtown core,” the report continues.

Calgary, the only other Canadian city covered in the index, is also seeing its crane total climb higher, reaching 33 at the beginning of this year. In July 2018 there were 26 cranes.

“Newly implemented standards governing urban density account for a jump in the crane count for Calgary, with high-rise multifamily projects making an impact on the skyline,” says RLB’s report.

Counting cranes is a good way to get a sense of market confidence, RLB previously told Livabl.

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