Heritage Regina president wants bylaws to protect historic buildings

The president of Heritage Regina is calling for bylaws which would protect heritage properties in the city after a historic building built in 1929 was gutted in a fire on Tuesday night.

The Travellers Building, built in 1929, was gutted by fire on Tuesday night and torn down Wednesday

The Travellers Building, which was designated as a heritage property, was gutted by fire on Tuesday evening. (CBC News)

The president of Heritage Regina is calling for bylaws to protect historic buildings following a late night blaze which gutted the city's Travellers Building on Tuesday.

Jackie Schmidt said she would like to see owners of heritage buildings billed if they can't or won't maintain their properties.

"In the heritage world, it's called 'demolition by neglect,'" she said. "It keeps people from selling off the heritage just to make money."

Schmidt said similar bylaws are in place in Vancouver. 

The historic Travellers building, built in 1929, was gutted by a fire Tuesday night. It was then torn down the next day. 1:09

Constructed in 1929, the Travellers Building was home to many different businesses over the years, such as the Arcadia Ballroom. It had one of the last two horsehair dance floors in the province, which made it easier for revellers to dance, Schmidt said. 

The building had also been home to offices which would be rented out to travelling salesmen, which is how it got its name.

The Travellers Building was designated a heritage property in 2001 and had been unused for years. 

This picture shows the extent of the damage to the building. (Submitted by Jonathan Swarbrick)

"I just want people in the city to realize they lost part of their heritage," Schmidt said. "It's important to sustain the cultural identity of the city."

She said the building had been on the organization's radar as an at-risk building. Heritage Regina was contemplating adding the building to the National Trust list of Canadian buildings in danger.

"And then, all of a sudden, it catches on fire and burns down," she said.

Less than a day after the fire, demolition crews were tearing the building down. Schmidt said she was shocked by the speed of the demolition.

A spokesperson from the city of Regina was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

It's still not clear what caused the fire.