A funeral home director in Thunder Bay calls the relationship between the funeral business and the parking authority a solid one, despite recent criticisms.

When funeral attendees park in no-parking zones or clog neighbourhood streets, the parking authority tries to be accommodating, said Greg Sargent, a manager at Sargent and Son Ltd.

"At the very least they would contact, they would notify a funeral director at the service to let them know that cars would be ticketed, so we could at least warn people," he said.

Sargent's comments follow complaints made this week by another Thunder Bay funeral home director, who said vehicles were being ticketed during funeral services.

But in his experience, Sargent said, parking authority officers try to bend the rules.

"As long as these vehicles aren't blocking fire hydrants, or driveways where people complain, I've seen them take maybe an extra lap to let the funeral happen before they start issuing [tickets]," he said.

Sargent noted he's had parking manager James Coady cancel or change tickets that he felt were unfair.

'Rather work together'

Mayor Keith Hobbs also weighed in on the issue. He said in a recent case which prompted a vitriolic letter to the editor from a Thunder Bay funeral director, neighbours had complained about vehicles at a funeral that were blocking driveways. That was  a safety concern, he said.

Hobbs noted the city has been praised by other funeral homes for the parking authority's practices.

"We received a memo from another funeral home saying that they don't have any issues at all [with giving out tickets] when people are parking illegally, or hampering traffic," Hobbs said.

In response to the recent attention in the media over the issue, the city of Thunder Bay posted the following message from Coady on its Facebook page:

"Thunder Bay Parking Authority (TBPA) stays away from funerals out of respect, unless calls are received related to illegal parking, causing safety problems. Tickets have been issued at a small number of very large funerals over the past 20 years based on complaints from the public and traffic safety problems, and the normal practice is to reduce the tickets.

TBPA also stays out of the area during funerals, so people who park at meters during funerals and do not put money in the meters do not receive tickets. In this particular case, tickets were issued to vehicles clearly parked illegally causing traffic safety problems to exist, as a result of complaints from the general public.

Tickets were reduced to $10, recognizing that people were attending a funeral but also that they had parked illegally to do so."

The city’s willingness to be flexible is something that Joe Salini from the Blake Funeral Chapel said he appreciates.

In a recent letter sent to Coady, Salini said any issues between the funeral home and the parking authority have always been "solved with a mutual agreement. We would rather work together as opposed to against each other."