The city of Montreal plans to adopt a bylaw forcing residents to remove wood burning stoves and fireplaces by December 31, 2020.

"Wood burning is a major source of fine particulate air pollution, meaning particles that penetrate into the lungs," said Norman King, an epidemiologist at the Montreal Public Health Board's urban environment and health section.

King says it's also a cause of many smog days in the winter.

"There are probably even more poor air quality days due to fine particulate pollution in winter than in the summer," said King. 

The city initially banned wood burning appliances for new constructions in 2009 and officials say this bylaw is the next step, though they say they are not sure exactly how they will deal with anyone who does not comply.

"The boroughs are responsible for these kinds of applications but it could be possible that we give it to an organization to go door-to-door to do this kind of job," said Josée Duplessis, the Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for parks and the environment.

The city says 50,000 homes in Montreal have to get rid of the wood burning appliances by the end of 2020.

There is a program called "Feu vert" where residents can remove their wood burning stove and receive up to $900 dollars to replace it with a natural gas or propane appliance. It's a provincial government program that runs until the end of this year—but the city wants to see it extended.