Woodfibre LNG says it is proceeding with a controversial $1.6-billion proposed liquefied natural gas development in Squamish that Christy Clark is heralding as a "milestone" for the future of B.C. energy.

The development will create an estimated 650 construction jobs, and 100 full-time jobs when the plant becomes operational.

"I am delighted to welcome this good news, which will undoubtedly continue to create good, sustainable, environmentally-sound, high-paying jobs for British Columbians in this region," Clark told reporters at a news conference in Squamish Friday.

The premier says construction is expected to begin next year and the plant should be running by 2020.

It is expected one tanker ship will export LNG to Asia every 10 days or so. Clark says each ship will be escorted by three tugs.

Clark maintains the LNG site will be one of the cleanest in the world.

Byng Giraud, Woodfibre LNG's country manager, said the LNG facility would essentially be recycling a 100-year-old former industrial site that already has lines for BC Hydro, a Fortis pipeline and takes advantage of an existing deep-water port.

"It's almost as if the site was designed for an LNG facility," Giraud said.

The site is located on the ancestral village site of Swiyat. Chief Ian Campbell of Squamish Nation did not go to the announcement, saying the band’s environmental conditions to protect land and marine habitats around the proposed project site have yet to be met.

In a statement, Campbell said the band will only agree to the project "only when all those conditions have been resolved."

The announcement comes after the day of a suspected arson at the Squamish Woodfibre LNG office.

Staff at the community office tells CTV News the apparent crime happened around 4 a.m. Thursday morning, and say the building was intentionally torched.

No one was in the office at the time and no one was injured. An off-site security service monitoring surveillance reported the incident to the fire department.

The building has been boarded up and secured with caution tape. There is visible fire damage to the exterior of the building, but damage did not spread to neighbouring businesses in the same building.

Clark acknowledged that there is opposition for the project, but said the “clean” LNG project will be a model for the rest of the world.

“Even British Columbians who don’t support this project I’m sure would agree with me that what happened at the office is an absolutely unacceptable way to express your opposition in a democratic society,” he said.