Supply shortages challenge county’s replacement of high-mile courier van

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Whether it’s Rio Youers’ newest release, No Second Chances, or Donna McCaw’s debut novel, Across the Great Divide, or one of 300,000 other lendable items in the Wellington County Library catalogue, Byran Cousins will see to it your requested item makes its way to a library branch near you.

Every day, Cousins, a county employee of seven years, loads up the library’s ageing courier van before travelling to 14 library branches sprinkled throughout the county’s seven municipalities.

If you spend any daytime driving county roads, there’s a good chance you may have even caught the van – with the slogan “The most powerful card you’ll ever carry” – passing by.

Last year, Cousins relocated 317,637 items, according to chief librarian Rebecca Hine – more than the library’s entire catalogue.

Mid-afternoon on June 23, Cousins was dropping off a few bins of books requested by Palmerston readers from other branches.

Bryan Cousins at Wellington County’s Palmerston Library branch. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


He turned the key, and the numbers 283,429 illuminated across the van’s odometer.

With the mileage steadily building – 260 km are added everyday, according to Hine – it has come time for the county to look at replacing the 2018 van.

But a tender for the project – the supply of a commercial-class van chassis and Unicell body – issued on March 3 and closing 21 days later, on March 24, received not a single bid.

In an email to the Advertiser, county purchasing manager Jackie Osti said two local dealerships “who typically bid on our vehicle tenders” were asked why they didn’t bother.

“They indicated that orders for this type of chassis could not be placed due to severe global supply chain issues,” Osti said, adding Unicell was no longer manufacturing the body type needed.

County staff contacted Guelph-based Barry Cullen Chevrolet directly and “successfully negotiated the purchase” of a Chevrolet express commercial cutaway chassis, Osti said.

An exact delivery timeline for the chassis is unknown, but it could take up to 18 months.

The chassis will then be retrofitted with a custom-made, aluminium enclosed body, installed by Elora-based Eloquip Ltd.

At a June meeting of the county’s library board, Hine said she expects the completed van to arrive by the end of 2023.

“We will baby the van until then and I think we can make it last,” she remarked to intrigued councillors and board members.

The custom-made vehicle rings in at a tax-in cost of $84,809 – $9,809 over the $75,000 budgeted for the van replacement.