A helipad in Kitchener’s north end has been closed temporarily – and possibly for good.

The helipad is located off of Wellington Street, south of King Street.

It is used by Ornge air ambulance to transport patients to and from Kitchener’s two hospitals. These patients are typically in need of urgent care – either on their way to hospital from the site of a serious injury, or on their way from a local hospital to a specialized facility in Hamilton or Toronto.

Last week, an Ornge pilot discovered that a newly-erected construction crane was blocking its usual path to the helipad.

The pilot was able to find another way in – but, after reviewing a report of the situation, the decision was made to close the helipad.

For the time being, air ambulances are taking off from and landing at the helipad at the Region of Waterloo International Airport -- about a 15-minute ride away from either hospital in a land ambulance. Hospital officials say the use of the airport helipad does not endanger patient safety.

It is expected that the construction crane will be in operation for two or three years. Even once that project wraps up, the pace of development in the area means other construction cranes could interfere with the flight path as well.

As a result, officials are looking to see if they can find a more permanent solution that would allow air ambulances to land somewhere closer to hospitals than the airport is.

“While Breslau works, having a closer service is definitely preferable,” says Grand River Hospital spokesperson Mark Karjaluoto.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says he too would prefer to see air ambulances be able to land in the city.

“We really need to look at a solution that’s going to address this issue on a longer-term basis,” he says.

With reporting by Stu Gooden