03/08/2012 08:55 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada February Housing Starts: Construction Picked Up In February, Says CMHC


OTTAWA - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., says the pace of housing starts picked up in February on higher activity in apartments, condos and retirement housing.

The corporation says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of starts was 201,100, up from 198,100 in January.

Its preliminary figures show 12,136 actual starts last month.

The seasonally adjusted figure smooths out monthly variables and the annual rate is calculated as if starts continued at the February pace for a year.

The agency says the February increase was driven by a rise in multiple starts, which include apartments and condos, in Quebec, the Prairies and British Columbia.

Urban starts on a seasonally adjusted basis rose by 49.8 per cent in Quebec, by 10.2 per cent in the Prairies and by 9.6 per cent in British Columbia.

They fell by 15.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada and by 16.9 per cent in Ontario.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 3.4 per cent to 182,800 units nationally, with urban single starts up 3.5 per cent to 67,400 units and multiple starts up 3.3 per cent to 115,400 units.

The agency says the jump in Quebec followed a sharp drop in January.

"Multiple housing starts in Quebec had fallen nearly 50 per cent in January, so February’s rise can be seen as a return to a more normal rate of construction," said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at the agency's market analysis centre.

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