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Leppert Leads Trade Mission to Canada in Search of Sustainability, Whatever That Is

A group of city officials and business leaders will join Mayor Tom Leppert today for a four-day trip to Toronto, Canada, where they're set to tackle the issue of "sustainability." Numbed by the vagueness of such a term, we contacted Leppert's deputy chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, to give us a better idea of what exactly the mayor and everyone else have on their agenda.

"The bottom line is that we have to create a community that will be here when our kids are raising their families," she says.

The trade delegation will meet with the American Chamber of Commerce and Economic Club of Toronto and learn how the city converted brown field sites in its Distillery District into a thriving mixed-use community.

Blackmon says it's all about "engaging conversation," noting that there will be a roundtable discussion about green buildings. She adds that Leppert wants to find out more about the recent zoning changes there, which doesn't inspire much confidence in the recently approved form-based zoning or forwardDallas! plan.

Those accompanying Leppert and his wife Laura include Norris Pettis, consul general of Canada; Gary Thomas and Randall Chrisman of Dallas Area Rapid Transit; city council members Ron Natinsky and Linda Koop; Karl Zavitkovsky, director of Dallas' economic development department; Michelle Corson and Neil Sleeper of The Real Estate Council; and Betsy del Monte, director of sustainability at The Beck Group.

And for those worried about the taxpayers ponying up the dough to fund this trip, Blackmon assures us that the city won't be paying a loonie for Leppert, Natinsky or Koop -- their trips are being funded by the Dallas International Education Fund.

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