Look at how downtown Kelowna’s skyline is changing | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Look at how downtown Kelowna’s skyline is changing

This 3D computer model of Kelowna was created by Eric MacMillan from Windsor, ON. and shows current and proposed highrises looking, here, towards downtown with the Landmark towers in the foreground.
Image Credit: Submitted/Eric MacMillan
April 01, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Eric MacMillan had the misfortune of graduating from the University of Windsor in May 2020, some of the darkest days in the COVID-19 lockdown where he had no job to go to.

He turned that unfortunate timing into a hobby that benefits residents in far away Kelowna who wonder what their downtown will look like once the almost-weekly barrage of high-rise tower announcements become reality.

“There were no jobs for me in my city so, just to pass the time and to keep my 3D rendering and CAD skills sharp, this is what I started to do,” MacMillan told iNFOnews.ca from Windsor where he now has a job with an environmental engineering firm.

“This” started as a 3D model of his native Mississauga and grew to similar models of other cities, including Kelowna.

This is the view of downtown from across Okanagan Lake.
This is the view of downtown from across Okanagan Lake.
Image Credit: Submitted/Eric MacMillan

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen complete and total transformation there (Mississauga) with so many towers going up,” he said. “Mississauga is a great example of where it was just empty fields and parking lots for most of its history and now it’s just getting filled in with 150-metre tall, plus, condo buildings. It’s something I really like to see. It’s something to me that symbolizes progress and it’s just a passion that evolved with my appreciation with engineering and architecture.”

As a junior environmental engineer, his work focus is more underground, checking the environmental history of where new developments are planned.

But his passion for skyscrapers has turned into a major hobby of creating 3D computer models first of his native Mississauga then other Canadian cities like Halifax, Ottawa, Barrie, Hamilton, London, Windsor and Saskatoon.

To that list he’s added Kelowna, even though he’s never been to the West Coast, let alone Kelowna.

The process was quite time consuming to begin with. MacMillan starts off with a Google Earth view of the city then scours things like city development reports and developers’ drawings to create views of the proposed buildings and make them as accurate as possible to what’s proposed. Then he drops those onto the map.

This is the most recent Google Earth view of downtown Kelowna.
This is the most recent Google Earth view of downtown Kelowna.
Image Credit: Google Earth

This is the same view once all the proposed towers are built.
This is the same view once all the proposed towers are built.
Image Credit: Submitted/Eric MacMillan

It’s a process that he can add to fairly quickly as new developments come along. He was able to add a 16-storey tower proposal on Bertram Street that was just filed at City Hall last week.

READ MORE: More than 200 storeys of housing planned for this short downtown Kelowna street

This shows the three block stretch of Bertram Street where about a dozen highrises are proposed. The most recent proposal is the tower on the left.
This shows the three block stretch of Bertram Street where about a dozen highrises are proposed. The most recent proposal is the tower on the left.
Image Credit: Submitted/Eric MacMillan

MacMillan has been approached by companies interested in buying his models but he’s working now and likes to keep them as a hobby.

As for missing the fields and parking lots of his home town? Not at all.

“These were just empty fields with nothing going on, not even being farmed or anything like that,” he said. “When it comes to density, especially these days now that we’ve learned that sprawling out is not necessarily a good model for developing a city, I’d rather see them getting filled in with tall towers than detached homes.”

That fits exactly with Kelowna’s model of development as it recently rejected a 680-lot single-family subdivision but seem set to support a dozen more downtown highrises.

READ MORE: Kelowna has learned the 'iceberg' lesson of sprawling development

Another view of Kelowna’s impending high-rise boom was posted in a YouTube video by Kelowna-based New Town Architecture and Engineering.

It shows the yet to be approved 46 storey 20/20 residential tower next to the Mission Group’s three tower Bernard Block project.

If approved and built, the 20/20 will be the highest tower in Kelowna. Currently that honour goes to One Water Street which is a nearly-complete 36-storey tower with its $10 million penthouse suite.

READ MORE: iN VIDEO: Kelowna's One Water Street penthouse could be yours for $10 million


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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