OrilliaMatters profiles all the candidates running for office in the October 24 municipal election. Potential candidates have until August 19 to submit their nominations.
Local Minister Zach Gariba is running for Ward 3 councilor in the upcoming municipal elections.
Gariba, 62, is the founding minister of Jubilee Celebration Center, a non-denominational church that provides services in Orillia, Barrie, Alliston and Owen Sound. He also works as a business coach.
Gariba has lived in Orillia for the past 15 years and is looking forward to the opportunity to serve her beloved city.
“Orillia has given me a lot of opportunities, and I love the city,” Gariba said OrilliaMatters. “I run to give back to the city what the city gave me. (Orillia) has given me so many opportunities and I want to give back to the city by serving people.”
Originally from Ghana, Gariba immigrated to Canada from Nigeria 35 years ago. He believes that he can bring a new perspective to the problems of the city.
“We see the same problems all the time, but they need a fresh set of eyes,” Gariba said. “They need someone who has a new perspective, who can see it from a different angle. I am someone who gets things done. I am a person who brings people from all walks of life together to work towards a common goal.”
In terms of political experience, Gariba currently serves on Orillia’s Waste Management Advisory Committee, and he previously worked with the federal government’s now-defunct Canadian International Development Agency.
He also comes from a family that has achieved great success in Ghanaian politics.
His father was the governor of Ghana, and his late uncle Sally was a political adviser to former Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama and also served as the country’s high commissioner to Canada.
At the top of Gariba’s priority list is attracting more doctors to the city.
“I have been here for the last 15 years. I didn’t have a doctor – my doctor was retired,” Gariba said, adding that he is working to bring new doctors to Orillia. “One of the things I can do is help nurses bring clinics to the city.”
He also sees affordable housing as a major issue.
“I have friends who are currently struggling with housing problems. They don’t have affordable housing and I know I can help bring that to the city.”
Gariba said he also hopes to help boost the city’s economy and attract more people downtown.
“I believe in small businesses, you know, local shops, local dining,” he said. “When you park here, you can get a ticket within ten minutes, within an hour. Why should people come downtown to shop when they can go to the mall and park for free? Why can’t we do something here…one month off, one month free? So people can be encouraged to come to the city center and shop.”
He also highlighted potholes in roads throughout the city, hoping to improve some of the city’s infrastructure.
Gariba said he is proud that his church operates debt-free through smart moves like renting venues for services. He plans to bring a more fiscally responsible approach to the board table.
“I am a financially responsible person; “I like balancing the budget,” Gariba said. (I) want to be able to do that in Orillia so we don’t go into debt. Because what do you know? “We can’t just spend money we don’t have.”
Mason Ainsworth and Jay Follis are the current Ward 3 councilors. Ainsworth has announced his run for mayor, leaving Gariba, Follis and Jeff Chetwezruk as the incumbents for Ward 3.