There's probably no better visible indicator of local construction activity than the crane. Soaring high above the site and immediately identifiable from afar, the presence of these mechanical hoists is a sign of economic strength, and their proliferation across the city speaks to the health of the residential and commercial real estate markets. It's for these reasons that incisive research organizations across the globe often keep track of crane activity in key markets.
Building surveying and construction advisory services firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) publishes a 'Crane Index' each quarter, measuring the growth and decline in the number of cranes across selected global cities. In North America, 14 cities are evaluated, including Calgary. The index from January 2017 recorded a 30 percent decline in crane activity from the previous year. The waning economy putting investors' plans on the shelves, the report also noted the dwindling demand for office space in the downtown core, increasing the commercial vacancy rate to 22 percent from 14 percent in 2015. The pending completions of 707 Fifth Street, Brookfield Place and Telus Sky are expected to exacerbate the problem.
A high vacancy rate in the residential sector has also been cause for alarm. The latest census figures from the City declared that nearly 23,600 housing units were vacant, an increase of approximately 2,700 from last year. The figures translate to a vacancy rate of 4.76 percent, the highest in 20 years.
But recent economic indicators, including employment and oil production numbers, suggest the economy is in the midst of a rebound. RLB's mid-year Crane Index also contained some better news for Calgary. The crane count increased 20 percent from the beginning of 2017, with highrise residential projects comprising more than half of the total. Despite some lingering evidence of the slowdown, the worst of the economic slump appears to be over.
An up-to-date user-built crane count has emerged on the SkyriseCalgary Forum, dividing the number of cranes according to the project use. The residential sector leads the way by far, with some projects like Parkside employing several cranes. If you think we're missing a crane, leave a comment in the thread or in the field provided below.