CALGARY -- An Alberta town with a passion for paleontology is trying a method of positive reinforcement to try and encourage people to wear masks during the pandemic.

The town of Drumheller, popular with tourists for its dinosaur history and attractions, allocated $5,000 to create 1000 Dino Bucks which are being handed out in participating stores to reward mask-wearing.

“Help people do the right thing with a reward as opposed to a stick,” said Darryl Drohomerski, Drumheller's CAO.

While some communities have mandatory mask bylaws punishable by fines, Drumheller decided a different approach was a better fit for the community with very few COVID-19 cases.

“Drumheller’s very spread out, it’s a very large, long community and I think from a bylaw enforcement standpoint it’s very hard to patrol," Drohomerski said.

As of Thursday, 17 retailers have signed up including gift shops, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and the local legion.

Signs show which stores are accepting and handing out the Dino Bucks.

Dino Bucks

Anyone in a mask who enters these places could be chosen to receive Dino Bucks, which can be spent it in any of those 17 stores.

Participating retailers get reimbursed 90 per cent of the voucher's value by the town.

Store owners and managers said it’s a positive way to connect with customers while encouraging safe practices.

“It makes it more fun, and not so scary,” said Deanna Chambers one of the co-managers of The Spirit Within Drumheller.

“It's kind of catching on really quickly," said Lynn Fabrick owner of Dry Canyon Collectibles,  "and in the last week we’ve seen a lot more people wearing masks."