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. 

Travellers Building demolition in Regina1:09

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. 

travellers block fire

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.