A pile of debris still sits at the site of the old Plaza Hotel three months after fire ravaged the historic building.

On Thursday, neighbouring businesses learned from the city that the debris will stay there until late fall, possibly even Christmas, as the building's owner works to obtain engineering reports and permits needed for the clean-up.

The ongoing delay has left neighbouring businesses frustrated.

The owner of nearby Cherry Bomb Toys, B. Woodward, told CTV News he's frustrated but understands that the process can't be rushed.

"It's a shame that it's going to take some time, but at the same time what's in here is not an easy situation to deal with, it's over a 100-year-old building."

The cost of the clean-up is estimated at half a million dollars by the building's owner, Nick Askew, who says he's on the hook for that expense.

But that's not the only cost associated with the blaze. Businesses like Sattva Spa, located next door, don't expect to open until next spring and have laid staff off. 

Heidi Sherwood, the spa's owner, says her business has taken a huge hit.

"It's very stressful. It's very personal as well. I think we like to say business is business outside. but this is personal. I'm personally invested," she said.

The fire itself is the work of an arsonist, according to Victoria police. What is still unknown, however, is who lit that blaze. 

Also still undetermined are the whereabouts of the building's caretaker Mike Draeger.

Police say they searched the site of the fire and his remains weren't there. It's news that's left friends like Susan L'Heureux sad and confused.

"He was the kindest man I've ever met. Like, he may have been a loner, but he was so kind, so gentle," she said.

Police won't comment on whether Draeger is a suspect in the arson case. Victoria police are only saying Draeger's missing person investigation is still active, as is their separate arson file.

Another piece of uncertainty surrounds what will go up in the space once the rubble is all cleaned up.

The building's owner tells CTV News he hopes to build a new hotel and predicts that would take three years to complete once the remains of the previous one are finally cleared away.