Christchurch mayor Bob Parker wants to investigate combining the city's universities and its polytechnic on a single "University of Oceania" campus in the central business district.
Mr Parker says the city's ageing population means there's a need to attract young people into the central city and one way to do this would be to set up a campus there.
He says the Government's blueprint for central Christchurch risks becoming a wasted opportunity and could result in a city resembling nothing more than a glossy rest-home.
The mayor says large numbers of young Cantabrians are choosing to live and work in Auckland, Wellington or Sydney and there is a risk the city won't have enough skilled people to help drive economic growth.
He wants a forum to be set up early next year involving the Government, council and education sector to discuss the central city blueprint and how this can be changed to encourage young and creative talent back to Christchurch.
"The young, creative entrepreneurial business community are actually out there doing stuff already and I want us to actually harness that and not just settle for a city that will drift gently into its sunset years albeit with a new, glossy set of buildings to play with," he says. "The risk is that it just becomes elegant but irrelevant."