Members of the Tsawwassen First Nation have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 1.8 million-square-foot megamall complex that would be among the largest in British Columbia.

CTV News reported that Ninety-seven per cent of those who voted Wednesday approved of granting a 99-year lease for the proposed two-mall shopping centre, to be located on reserve land south of Vancouver off Highway 17.

Chief Kim Baird called the vote results “exciting and encouraging.”

“We are optimistic that this development, which is now one step closer to reality, will play a key role in improving our economy and the lives of future generations,” Baird said in a release.

The project, which would be similar in size to Metrotown mall in Burnaby, is expected to house a mix of retail stores, office space and entertainment facilities.

The First Nation was given the right to govern its reserve and about 400 hectares of neighbouring property three years ago.

Critics have blasted the mall proposal as a misuse of valuable farm land and a threat to local businesses.

Developers hope to begin construction this year, with completion scheduled for 2015.