Stella Martin poses for a photo on the bank of the Yukon River on May 19 holding the article about Whitehorse in 2020 written by her father Frank Mooney and published in the Yukon News in 1986. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Man reflects on time spent as part of think tank predicting 2020

Mooney says it was a good experience

In 1986, Frank Mooney took part in a think tank that aimed to look at what Whitehorse and the Yukon could look like in 2020.

Mooney, now 94, and his daughter Stella Martin spoke with the News on May 20 to go over his experience on the Action Committee of the City of Whitehorse and see how close the group’s vision was to 2020.

The committee was comprised of approximately 20 people. Mooney was not able to remember who participated but he did say the committee was made up of colourful characters from a variety of backgrounds and points of view.

“There were a lot of people involved who saw a different vision for Whitehorse and Yukon,” Mooney said.

He said the discussions were friendly and there was always time for a laugh. Mooney felt these meetings were productive.

“Oh yes,” Mooney said.

Mooney had difficultly remembering why he joined the think thank. Martin said her father was once the regional manager of the Northern Canada Power Commission in the 1970s and she figured this experience made him a viable candidate for the committee.

She adds that he had experience working with First Nations and was part of the Aishihik Power Plant construction.

She said that her father was an active member of Whitehorse’s Rotary Club and very involved in the community.

“They might have thought he was a good candidate,” Martin said.

Mooney could not remember any specific discussions from that time. He did say the discussions were general in nature and involved “a lot of people”.

Martin remembered her father sharing some of the topics. She recalled the subject of developing the waterfront so people could walk along the banks of the Yukon River in Whitehorse.

She could not say for sure, but she feels the Millennium Trail has similarities with how the waterfront was envisioned.

“All that is certainly here now,” Martin said.

The committee was a group that aimed to look at the economic development, the environment and recreation in Whitehorse and the territory. Mooney said things were changing during that time as the economy was diversifying away from relying so much on mining.

Martin added that the group was looking at the tourism industry as well as trying to predict what the population would be come 2020. The group estimated that Whitehorse would have a population of 30,000 by 2020. This prediction came true with the Yukon Bureau of Statistics finding the city has a population of 31,161 in June 2019, according to the bureau’s Yukon Monthly Statistical Review.

“I think that’s about where we’re at,” Martin said.

Martin provided a clipping from the Yukon News of a letter Mooney wrote on Oct. 8, 1986. According to the letter, the committee figured the territory’s population would grow to approximately 60,000. The Yukon did not reach that mark, with the same bureau review finding the territory having a population of 39,968.

On tourism, the group estimated that it would be a $250 million dollar industry. According to Tourism Yukon’s 2018 Year-End Report, retail sales attributed to tourism totalled $833.5million and restaurant receipts totalled $77.3 million.

The group figured there would be an increase in solar energy and hydroponics in the city and territory by 2020.

On the environmental front, the group estimated that there would be warmer seasons based on changes already observed.

Martin added that there was a prediction that the territory would be producing 50 per cent of its food. This included people having large gardens. She is unsure how this turned out.

Not every idea saw the light of day. The group’s report contained a suggestion of moving the Whitehorse Law Centre to a new unnamed location and using the building as some kind of First Nations cultural centre.

Overall, Mooney felt more of the group’s predictions came to pass than did not. He added that the city has changed so much that there are times where it can be hard to recognize.

Martin pointed out that when her family first moved to Whitehorse in October 1970, there were only two sets of traffic lights. They were along Main Street at Second and Forth Avenues.

Mooney moved his family to Whitehorse, including his wife and their eight kids, when he got his job for the federal government at the power commission.

Martin indicated that the Alaska Highway has changed a lot since then, being less windy and paved now.

Mooney said he stayed in the Yukon because it gave him an appreciation of Canadian history. He explained it was the mountains; rivers and lakes that gave him the appreciation.

He said he thinks people may be interested in joining a think tank looking to the future but figures people are more focused on the country as a whole.

He adds that back in 1986 no one had ever though that a virus like COVID-19 would be circulating and having profound impacts on the world.

“This caught them (everyone) by surprise,” Mooney said.

Contact Gord Fortin at


Stella Martin poses for a photo on the bank of the Yukon River on May 19 holding the article about Whitehorse in 2020 written by her father Frank Mooney and published in the Yukon News in 1986. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Just Posted

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker


Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Team Yukon during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. (Submitted/Sport Yukon)
Whitehorse will bid for 2027 Canada Winter Games

Bid would be submitted in July 2022

File Photo
The overdose crisis, largely driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil was the topic of an online discussion hosted by Blood Ties Four Directions Centre and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition on June 8 and 10.
Discussion of overdose crisis in Yukon leaves participants hopeful for future

The forum brought together people including some with personal drug use and addiction experience.

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

Western and Northern premiers met this week to discuss joint issues. (Joe Savikataaq/Twitter)
Premiers meet at Northern Premiers’ Forum and Western Premiers’ Conference

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq virtually hosted both meetings this year

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents.
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

The move comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015

Teslin Lake is one of two bodies of water the Yukon Government has place on flood watch. (Google Maps Image)
Flood watch issued for Teslin Lake, Yukon River at Carmacks

The bodies of water may soon burst their banks due to melting snow and rainfall

Most Read