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Maple Ridge restaurant owner rebuilds patio after suspected arson

Click to play video: 'Maple Ridge restaurant tries to recover from act of arson'
Maple Ridge restaurant tries to recover from act of arson
The owners and staff of the Chameleon Restaurant in Maple Ridge are rebuilding a brand-new patio that was set on fire just hours before it was set to open. Janet Brown reports.

The owners and staff of a Maple Ridge, B.C., restaurant are reeling after someone set fire to their brand-new patio.

Chameleon is a bistro and cocktail lounge on 224th Street in the downtown core.

The fire was set on Saturday morning and caused significant damage to the patio, which was just about to open for the season that night.

The fire department and RCMP confirmed they are investigating the blaze as suspected arson.

Chameleon’s owner and staff members were on site on Monday cleaning up the damage and starting to rebuild.

“We had just finished building this 12-and-a-half hours ago,” owner Ed Auersperg told Global News.

“Had one drink on it. No time to start over.”

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Click to play video: 'Theft, threats force Maple Ridge business to move'
Theft, threats force Maple Ridge business to move

Auersperg said the surveillance video shows someone on the deck and after that person leaves, smoke and flames are visible.

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“I’m still trying not to be mad,” he said, “but yeah, it’s hard at times.”

Auersperg said this attack is just another example of how hard it has become to operate a business in Metro Vancouver.

“It’s tough enough running a restaurant post-COVID,” he added.

“It’s going to be that little bit tougher now.”

Click to play video: 'Maple Ridge funeral home posts vandalism video on social media'
Maple Ridge funeral home posts vandalism video on social media

A funeral home, just down the street from the restaurant, told Global News previously that they might consider moving due to public disorder and safety issues.

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Nathan Logue from Garden Hill Cremation and Funeral Services posted a video on Facebook in May showing the damage he says staff are met with almost every morning.

The video shows broken windows and destroyed flower beds, along with needles, garbage and human feces.

“My concerns here is that there isn’t enough support for the people that are causing damages to the local businesses, and that the city is not able to provide the necessary services for these people to get help,” Logue said.

“We have plenty of help with community safety officers and private security to move people along, but it’s not preventing destruction.”

Click to play video: 'Shop overcomes devastating vandalism again'
Shop overcomes devastating vandalism again

Just across the street from Chameleon, T’s Once Upon a Tea Leaf business was vandalized twice in fall 2023.

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A suspect was caught on video smashing in the front window and throwing an apparent smoke bomb into the store.

“When you own a business you anticipate that maybe someone will smash and grab and that’s just kind of the part of owning a business in 2023 … but when I watched the footage and watched that plume of smoke … I just started sobbing,” owner Taryn Stephenson said.

“We have worked so hard and we’ve been in this community for 16 years. It hurts.”

For now, Auersperg said they will rebuild the patio and they hope many people will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

“I say there comes a time when you say, ‘I’m done,’ but we’re not there yet,” he said.

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