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Local minister with 'fresh vision' seeks Ward 3 council position

'Orillia has given me so much opportunity, and I love the city. I'm running to give back to the city what the city has given me,' says council candidate Zak Gariba
Zak Gariba hopes to bring doctors, affordable housing, and economic prosperity to Orillia should he be elected as a Ward 3 councillor. Gariba is a founding minister at Jubilee Celebration Services.

OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in the Oct. 24 municipal election. Prospective candidates have until Aug. 19 to submit their nomination papers.

Local minister Zak Gariba is running for a Ward 3 council position in the upcoming municipal election.

Gariba, 62, is a founding minister with Jubilee Celebration Centre, a non-denominational church that offers 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 he is hoping to get the opportunity to serve the city he loves.

“Orillia has given me so much opportunity, and I love the city,” Gariba told OrilliaMatters. “I'm running to give back to the city what the city has given me. (Orillia) has given me so many opportunities, and I’d like to give back to the city by serving the people.”

Of Ghanaian origin, Gariba moved to Canada from Nigeria 35 years ago. He believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the city’s issues.

“We’re seeing the same problems all the time, but they need a fresh eye,” Gariba said. “They need somebody with a fresh vision, who will be able to see it in a different light. I'm somebody who gets the job done. I'm somebody who comes in and brings people from all walks of life together to work to solve a common goal.”

In terms of political experience, Gariba currently sits on Orillia’s Waste Management Advisory Committee, and he has previously done work with the federal government’s now-defunct Canada International Development Agency.

He also comes from a family that has seen tremendous success in Ghana politics.

His father was the governor of a Ghanaian state, and his late brother, Sulley, was a political advisor to Ghana’s former president, John Dramani Mahama, and also served as the country’s high commissioner to Canada.

At the top of Gariba’s priority list is bringing more doctors to the city.

“I've been here for the last 15 years. I haven't had a doctor – my doctor was retired,” Gariba said, adding he will work to bring new doctors to Orillia. 'And one of the things I know I could do also is to help nurse practitioners to bring walk-in clinics to the city.”

He also views affordable housing as a major issue.

“I have friends who are struggling with housing right now. They don't have affordable housing and I know I can help bring that to the city.”

Gariba said he also hopes to help build the city’s economy and attract more people downtown. 

“I believe in small businesses, you know, shop local, dine local,” he said. “When you park here, within ten minutes, within an hour, you could get a ticket. Why should people come to downtown to shop when they can go to the mall and park for free? Why can't we create something here … one month off, one month free? So people can have incentive to come and shop downtown.”

He also hopes to improve some of the city’s infrastructure, noting potholes in the roads throughout the city.

Gariba said he is proud that his church operates debt free, through prudent moves such as renting the spaces for services. He plans to bring a fiscally responsible approach to the council table.

“I’m a fiscally responsible person; I love to balance the budget,” Gariba said. (I want) to be able to do that in Orillia, so we will not be in debt. Because you know what? We can't just be spending the money we don't have.”

Mason Ainsworth and Jay Fallis are the current Ward 3 councillors. Ainsworth has announced he will be running for mayor, leaving Gariba, Fallis, and Jeff Czetwezruk as the current candidates for a Ward 3 position.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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