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Ottawa mayor runs local marathon to raise funds for supportive housing facility

Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe has raised more than $26,000 toward repairs to a local supportive housing facility that was severely damaged by a February flood.

Sutcliffe ran the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon, finishing with an official time of 4:08:13

Sutcliffe pledged to run the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend marathon on Sunday and set a fundraising goal of $20,000 to go toward Ottawa Salus, which provides supportive housing for adults living with serious mental illness. In February, a pipe burst at the Salus building on Scott Street during extreme cold, displacing 42 residents.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent on Saturday, Sutcliffe said his visit to the building is what inspired him to raise the money.

"I went on a tour of their facility just after there had been a flood and it was really tragic to see," he said. "It really touched my heart and I wanted to do what I could to help, so I decided to run the marathon and try to raise some money for these individuals who were displaced for their homes because of this flood."

It's still unknown just how much money Ottawa Salus will need to complete the repairs.

Sutcliffe faced some criticism online when he shared his fundraiser on social media. Critics argued that, as mayor, Sutcliffe has much more power to effect change than through an individual fundraiser.

Sutcliffe has made several promises around housing as mayor. The word "housing" comes up 48 times in his mayoral campaign platform, compared to 38 references for "transit" and 31 for "police". He has pledged to increase the city's contribution to organizations that provide supportive housing to people experiencing mental health and addiction issues, and to put a greater focus on transitional and supportive housing when it comes to ending homelessness in Ottawa. The 2023 budget includes $15 million in new spending toward affordable and supportive housing.

Sutcliffe said he's pleased to see his fundraiser supported.

"I'm really pleased… it's going to help a lot of individuals who could use some support," he said.

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is expected to attract 30,000 runners this year. It's a major fundraising generator for charities, with 74 organizations set to benefit to the tune of more than $1.5 million.

"There's so much energy that comes from being around the other runners," Sutcliffe said. "We're all following the same route from the start line to the finish line but… everybody follows a different path to the start line and there's a reason they're there."

Sutcliffe will become the first sitting mayor in Ottawa to run in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend marathon.

He told CTV News Ottawa on Sunday morning he was aiming to complete the marathon in under four hours.

"I'm going to take it easy, it's going to hot today so I need to not overdo it, but I will do my best," he said.

The official time was 4:08:13. A spokesperson for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend said the social media team received inaccurate information because the tracking app didn't properly sync up with the timing chip, which is why Sutcliffe's finish time was originally reported at 3:54:06 in a tweet Sunday.

He added he's pleased to see how many people came to participate this year.

"It's been amazing to see thousands and thousand of people in downtown Ottawa," he said. "So many people from other cities who are visiting Ottawa, which is great; it's one of the biggest tourism events of the year. So much money has been raised for local charities and it's just so great for the health and fitness of our community as well." 

You can find a link to Sutcliffe's fundraiser here.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Tyler Fleming and Jackie Perez.

Correction

A previous version of this story said Sutcliffe finished with a time of 3:54:06, based on information provided by Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on social media. The official time was 4:08:13. A spokesperson for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend said the social media team received inaccurate information because the tracking app didn't properly sync up with the timing chip, which is why it was originally reported at 3:54:06.

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