OTTAWA — The pace of housing starts picked up in May, accelerating to a seasonally adjusted rate of 201,705 units from 183,329 in April.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the increase was primarily driven by multiple-unit projects in Ontario, the Atlantic region and Quebec.

Multi-unit starts in urban areas accounted for 122,367 of the total for May, up 16.9 per cent from April.

Construction of single-detached houses in urban areas was steady at a seasonally adjusted rate of 58,868 units. There were an estimated 16,470 housing starts in rural areas.

The CMHC report came as Statistics Canada reported that contractors took out $7.8 billion worth of building permits in April, up 11.6 per cent from March.

The Canadian Press