Toronto's new mayor, John Tory, came to power on a pledge to build bridges, but inside his city hall office, he's putting up better walls.
Turns out the divider between Mr. Tory's boardroom and the office next door – occupied by none other than former mayor Rob Ford – is in need of an upgrade. The walls are "quite thin," reports a spokeswoman for the mayor's office and workers were scheduled to come Thursday night to look at better soundproofing.
The flimsy nature of the partitions between councillors' offices on the second floor of the city's landmark building are well known by those who work there. One story goes that a councillor used to bang his shoe against the wall when the volume in his colleague's office next door got louder than his liking.
And before he left the mayor's suite last year, Mr. Ford reminisced with reporters about the things he overheard when he occupied the same councillor digs he does now under the administrations of former mayors Mel Lastman and David Miller.
"My office is right beside the boardroom so I heard a lot of conversations that I shouldn't have heard," he said. "My name was mentioned a few times, too."
Mr. Ford said he caught the former mayors "off guard" by recounting what he had heard. "That's politics," he said.
Mr. Tory's office has decided to eliminate the potential for such eavesdropping, although it will not say whether there was an incident that led to the construction request.
"In this office you can hear straight through the wall," said Amanda Galbraith, director of communications in Mr. Tory's office. "It's actually both ways. … We want to make sure we can focus and do our work, so the request was put forward."
Ms. Galbraith said she did not know the cost of the work and could not say who asked for the soundproofing. It was the result of a "discussion that happened in the office," she said.
"There are some things that need to be improved with the condition of the office, for example, new carpeting. There was some new furniture. There were some things to be done to make sure we can operate like a professional office," she said. "It's just one of the things that was added to the list."
Ms. Galbraith said the issue is that the drywall in the office does not extend above the tiles in the drop ceiling, so sound carries through the open space above the partitions. Workers will "complete the wall," she said.
Next door in Mr. Ford's councillor office for Ward 2, which was occupied by his brother Doug Ford during his administration, his executive assistant Dan Jacobs said he can hear "muffled voices" through the wall, but declined to give details.
"We have enough work to do on our own without eavesdropping," he said.