Skip to main content

Canada More cranes equals more development — and Toronto has the most in U.S. and Canada: report

Some days it feels like there’s more development happening in Toronto than New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles combined.

By one standard that measures development, that’s true.

A July study from international real estate consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) counted the number of cranes in 13 major cities in the United States and Canada, most in use for home construction.

Story continues below advertisement

The “Crane Index” demonstrates how fast cities are growing, said Joe Pendlebury, who leads RLB’s Canadian offices in Calgary and Oakville, Ont. The study, which included Calgary and Toronto, was focused on cities where the company either has offices or operates in close proximity.

Toronto’s crane dominance wasn’t even close. In the most recent report, the study found that Toronto had 97 cranes in use − 32 more than second-place Seattle, which had 65. In January, Toronto had 88, and a year ago it had 72. All three times, it came out on top.

Mr. Pendlebury said he expects Toronto to continue to lead the pack in development over the next few years at least.

“We’ve come out of a bubble and there’s strong growth ahead,” he said.

The number of cranes in Calgary actually decreased a few years ago during the recession, Mr. Pendlebury said. But as the city recovers, there’s been a renewal of confidence among developers.

Still, he said, the city probably won’t see construction on a Toronto scale any time soon.

“I think it’s going to be a slow growth,” Mr. Pendlebury said.

Story continues below advertisement

Across all cities, 72 per cent of the cranes RLB counted were being used to build homes. Eighty-five of Toronto’s 97 cranes were building new living spaces, which begs the question: If the city is frantically building thousands of new homes, why are they still so expensive?

Mr. Pendlebury said he couldn’t answer that as the study didn’t look at how construction impacts price.

But Cherise Burda, executive director of Ryerson University's City Building Institute, said the answer lies not in the amount of housing being built, but the type.

It’s been known for some time that Toronto is building more than any other city in the United States and Canada, she said. The problem is that most of the homes that are being built are one-bedroom condos when what the city needs is “missing middle” housing − the middle ground between tiny condos and detached houses.

Even if a family wanted to squeeze into a condo, the vast majority of the units in the GTA are snapped up by investors before the shovel hits the ground − 94 per cent, according to a study Ms. Burda co-authored. Those condos are usually rented out, but that’s not the point, she said − to properly combat housing cost, houses should be built with the end users in mind.

“Let’s be honest here,' she said, “we can’t build any more detached houses in the city. There’s no room.”

Story continues below advertisement

But there are lots of places to build responsible housing in the GTA, she said. Places like parking lots, old plaza sites and warehouses can be developed “not just with missing middle family-friendly housing, but mixed-use communities with services and retail and things like that.”

“We’ve never built this many condos before. We are at an all-time high," she said. "You can have hundreds of cranes in the air, but if you’re not building the right supply … then we have problems.”

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter