A group that is behind a ‘pop-up’ safe injection facility at Moss Park is calling on Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti to publicly retract what they say were “misleading and inaccurate” statements about a permanent facility that has been operating in Vancouver since 2003.

Last week, Mammoliti gave several media interviews in which he contended that there has been an increase in public drug use and overdoses since a safe injection facility was first established in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood 14 years ago.

In one such interview on Zoomer Radio AM740, Mammoliti said that neighbourhood Business Improvement Areas are now spending the majority of the budgets on “sweeping up needles” and were generally opposed to having a safe injection facility in their community as a result.

The Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance, however, took issue with that statement in a release issued Wednesday.

The group said that it reached out to the head of one BIA, mentioned by name by Mammoliti, who said that an increase in the number of needles picked up in the neighbourhood has “absolutely nothing” to do with the presence of the safe injection facility and everything to do with the “deadly fentanyl crisis” that is currently unfolding.

“If we did not have Insite (supervised injection site) and we did not have neighbourhood businesses to support only a small portion of street cleaning in the area, I guarantee you it would be far, far worse, with piles of needles on the street and many lives lost,” Hastings Crossing BIA Executive Director Landon Hoyt told the group.

Mammoliti has repeatedly railed against both the pop-up safe injection site in Moss Park and the city’s plans to open three permanent facilities by the end of 2017, telling CP24 last week that residents should visit Hastings Street in Vancouver in order “to see very quickly what Toronto is going to look like in six or seven months.”

In the released issued Wednesday, the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance said that Mammoliti should retract “inaccurate statements” that he has made on the subject, specifically in reference to the supervised injection facility in Vancouver.

“People’s lives are literally on the line,” the release says. “We need open, honest and factual dialogue about drug use and solutions to the overdose crisis.”