Premier Christy Clark said LNG in B.C. is one step closer to becoming a reality with First Nations backing and funding in place, during a special announcement about the Woodfibre LNG project today near Squamish.

She expects the $1.6-billion project will start shipping gas to Asian markets in 2020.

The company's plan is to process natural gas — shipped by pipeline from Northern B.C.— into liquefied natural gas if permits are all secured.

The company first proposed a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant after buying the site in 2015, but plans to convert the historic pulp mill sparked loud environmental concerns.

The province has chartered a boat and a helicopter to transport media including CBC News to the site, which has no road access.

But while Clark claims First Nations leaders are supportive, at least one did not participate today.

Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation did not attend the event today saying, "It's too early to celebrate."

The Squamish Nation set out 25 conditions to protect sensitive land and marine habitats near the project and they are still working "hard at" coming to an agreement to have them met, he said.

"Put simply, our Woodfibre LNG work simply isn't finished," said Campbell in a statement on Friday morning.

Environmental approval already granted

Federal Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna already approved an environmental assessment for the proposed project in March. 

That was described as a "big milestone" by the company's vice president Byng Giraud.

That assessment was done by the province on behalf of both levels of government and was subject to certain conditions.

At the time, McKenna called the environmental assessment "thorough and science-based," and said the LNG plant is unlikely to cause significant harm.

LNG protest at Horseshoe Bay

Dozens of boats gathered in March in Howe Sound near Horeshoe Bay as part of a protest against a proposed liquefied natural gas plant in Squamish. (CBC)

Project raises concerns in Squamish

Woodfibre LNG Ltd. — which is owned by Singapore-based RGE Pte.Ltd — estimates the proposed LNG export facility would create 650 plus jobs per year during two-year construction period and approximately 100 full-time shift jobs for more than 25 years once it is running.

But the project has also attracted a number of protests and petitions since it was first proposed.

According to the group My Sea to Sky, the proposed facility will damage the Howe Sound environment, hurt tourism, and doesn't fit into the future of Squamish.

The group says nearly 9,000 people signed a petition against it, and hundreds of residents voiced opposition at town hall meetings last spring.  

"[It] will exude give or take 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases that will affect B.C.'s ability to meet climate change targets," said group member Eoin Finn.

"The 60,000 tonnes of LNG aboard each of those tankers present a small but significant safety risk to the population of Bowen and West Vancouver."