Condo construction in big cities pushed Canada's rate of housing starts up by almost 25,000 units in May to 200,178, Canada's housing agency said Monday.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the figure was up from 175,922 in April. Urban starts were up by 14.6 per cent, led by a 22.2 per cent rise in multiple urban starts such as condos to 114,346 units. 

Despite the one-time uptick, CMHC said the trend was essentially flat. The six-month moving average was trending at 182,756 units in May compared to 182,971 in April.

"The trend in total housing starts was essentially unchanged in May as gains in the multiple starts segment partly offset the moderation in activity that was observed in previous months, especially in Atlantic Canada and Ontario," CMHC's deputy chief economist Mathieu Laberge said. "As a result, the trend in housing activity remains close to its historical average and is in-line with estimates of household formation."

Regionally, May’s seasonally adjusted annual rates of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and were essentially unchanged in the Prairies. Urban starts decreased in British Columbia and Quebec.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,944 units for the month. That was higher than the 21,330 starts estimated in April.