Throwing a log on an open fire could be illegal in Montreal next year, four years earlier than previously planned.

Two years ago Montreal's Executive Committee ordered the elimination of all wood-burning fireplaces and stoves by Dec. 31, 2020.

After public consultations Montreal's Environmental Commission has adopted recommendations that would allow wood-burning stoves as long as the pollution they produce is limited to 2.5 grams/hour of fine particulate matter. However these stoves would need to be installed by October 2016.

The recommended rules would also prohibit burning wood during a smog alert.

"We considered that we will reduce the particulate matter by 80 per cent which is a giant step," said Dominic Perri, the Environmental Commission's vice-president.

"This is a first in North America. This will encourage other cities to follow us."

The primary sources of fine particulate matter throughout the year are transportation, but wood heating during the winter contributes a substantial amount.

Critics of the original policy said it failed to distinguish between open fireplaces and high-efficiency wood stoves.

There are an estimated 85,000 wood stoves and fireplaces in the city of Montreal.

Montreal's city council will now draft a bylaw based on the commission's recommendations.