Are you? You may not be the only one. We have seen stock markets like the Toronto Stock Exchange take major hits over the past two months due to the effects of Covid-19 taking its toll on almost every industry. With some recent rises in markets continuing to build investor confidence, we are still left in the unknown for why this is happening. Living through a historically unprecedented time uncovers a long list of questions and concerns for our livelihood as individuals, quality of life for the future, and how best to navigate through this time. I’m sure during the Irish potato famine in 1845-1849, there were many people asking – what’s going on with all the potatoes?
In a survey undertaken by the group “500 Startups” based in Silicon Valley, surveyed a group of investors to report on how they have been affected by the pandemic. The investor group consisted of venture capitalists, angel investors, corporate venture investors, and family office investors. The report showed 83% having their investment activity and plans be affected by Covid-19. As seen in the chart below, 62.6% of the group feel that startups and early-stage investors will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for 1-2 years. Their advice to startups during this time is to simply decrease costs and to increase their runway for how long they can stay in business.
Data taken from 500 Startups report on The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early-Stage Investment Climate
We spoke with Kevin Skinner, an investment advisor for Servus Wealth Strategies, who gave us some insight and knowledge pertaining to open concerns for novice investors who may be seeking to enter the market or simply are in the dark for what to with their holdings. Kevin has been working in the financial services industry for over a decade and is a top investment advisor in their St. Abert branch.
Considering what we have seen so far in stock markets, Is it a good time for new long term investors to buy now or continue to wait?
Striving away from the idea that fortune-tellers exist within trading, which is not true, a good education on markets is always a good pre-market investment of your own time. In regards to those looking to be a long term investor, he mentions:
“If you’re a long term investor the adage is that it’s always the best time…so question number one has to be, can you afford to invest the money right now…the second question is, what else can you do with this money. If you have $10,000 in the bank and $10,000 in credit card debt, always better to pay off the debt than you are investing that money.”
We want our money working for us right? Having a solid grasp of how your money is working for you may allow you to make a better-educated investment without adding any financial risk. The idea that there are smoke signals in the market to tell you it is the right time to invest, he mentions:
“If it was that easy, I would be sitting on my private island somewhere enjoying the world…It really is about investing correctly and investing to your plan. If your plan is to have the money for the long term, You need to have an understanding of your risks and your comfort.”
What if I have money to invest right now, should I wait for the bottom line?
Kevin advised the dollar cost average tool to take the emotion out of investing. With so much volatility in the market, we revisit the concept that fortune-tellers exist to tell other investors when to buy; there is no way to fully identify the risks. To ensure you’re getting good value for your money, Kevin offers an example of the dollar cost average approach:
“Take your pool of money, call it $12,000. You invest $1,000 a month in a particular fund. You catch the market as it wobbles, so you don’t necessarily buy it all at the bottom, you’re definitely not buying it all at the top. You’re averaging your cost date and to get a good value for what you’re buying.”
Do you have an opinion on panic selling at a loss?
Straight out of the gate, Kevin is a firm believer that anything that involves the word “panic” is never a good thing. Investopedia’s definition of panic selling refers to the sudden, wide-scale selling of a security or securities by a large number of investors, causing a sharp decline in price. We have seen this as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Panic selling can be directly related to having an emotional connection to your investment, but to ensure the doom and gloom doesn’t get the better of you, having an objective view allows you to stay logical and stick to your plan. Kevin mentions:
“you have to do whatever you can to pull that emotion back out. Panic selling immediately is focused on the emotional side of it. You have to remove the emotion from investing.”
Not as easy as it sounds right? We are going through an emotionally ramped up time during this pandemic, not to mention dealing with all the other unknown realities of how our economy will bounce back or when the non-essential business will be reopened. Kevin recommends choosing places to move your investments to take the panic out.
“You don’t call a realtor when your house is on fire. That’s where we’re at in the market right now, we know the house is on fire. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, how bad it’s going to be, or what it’s going to look like when it’s put out.”
Can you offer any comment on the fear of more lows, or what are the key indicators that we should be aware of?
We have seen stocks rise over the past week due to economic stimulus measures and the actions being taken to gradually reopen global economies. Experienced investors are forward-thinking individuals, they take into consideration the risk-reward for having objective optimism in certain industries. Kevin encourages to take the view that the rises we have seen are temporary for now, he mentions:
“Know that there’s another drop coming. Know that we don’t know how bad it’s going to be. And we don’t know how long the recovery is going to take. which is why we’re saying it’s going to be 2021 at least before the flooding of the market recovers”
We are expecting a long and slow road to recovery, but finding the bottom line can be almost impossible. Ask yourself, what happens to market optimism if a vaccine is made available tomorrow? Does that mean the market will become flooded with investors? It is impossible to know; by choosing a trusted investment advisor they can assist with taking the emotion out of your investments, and you can lean on their knowledge of markets to offer that objective optimism. For individual investors, it is useful to be aware of the activity in that sector to aid in growing your confidence, or the counter, it may give you key information to avoid a bad buy right now.
How have you been navigating through this time?
Kevin is one of many continuing to work from home during this period of self-isolation. With any new environment carries challenges. He is thankful for Servus Credit Union for the support he has received and the efforts put forward by the whole team. He has been spending some time in the welcomed sunshine playing sports with his 12-year-old son in his driveway.
What has Servus Credit Union been proactively doing to support its customers right now?
Servus Credit Union released their response to COVID-19, issuing kind words to their members that they are here for them during this time. Their CEO, Garth Warner also released a personal letter to all of their members speaking on behalf of the team doing everything they can do to support their members. Kevin mentions:
“Our members are truly members, they’re all owners. Everyone who deals with the credit union holds a piece of the credit union. Right now we’re trying to keep our whole business, our owners, and our members afloat…so whatever we do, is what’s best for us as an organization which means it’s also what’s best for our members”
What are you personally looking forward to after this period of self-isolation?
“I coach sports. Of course every kid’s sport is canceled right now. We lost the end of our sports seasons for the winter, we’re going to miss the beginning of our sports season for the spring. And that’s what I miss most is getting outside with the kids and just having fun.”
If you would like to learn more about Servus Credit Union, Servus Wealth Strategies or Kevin Skinner, visit their website or social links below.
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My European Favourites: Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov is the most picturesque medieval town in the Czech Republic, and one of the best small town destinations in Central Europe. Český Krumlov is located in the South Bohemia Region of the Czech Republic about a two hour drive directly south from Prague and only thirty minutes from the nearby city of Ceske Budejovice. It is only about thirty kilometers from the Austrian border, and Linz is only an hour away. It is a natural stop from Prague to Salzburg, and we frequently stay in Ceske Budejovice, where many of our hockey groups play games or train at former NHL and Czech hockey star, Jaroslav Pouzar’s arena.
Český Krumlov’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is nestled in between a meandering river and is surrounded by lush green hills and a towering castle above. With narrow cobblestone streets and a mixture of baroque and renaissance architecture, this could be the backdrop to any fairytale.
After we enter the town, we will park our bus across the street from a little park, called the Deer Garden, that is dwarfed by the back side of the Český Krumlov Castle. To get up to the castle, there is a path at an incline just on the right of the park or there are stairs up to the castle located at the back right of the park.
Once you reach the top, on the right you will find the eleven hectare castle garden. The garden includes a cascade fountain, an outdoor amphitheatre with a revolving auditorium, the Bellaria summer palace and the castle’s winter riding hall, which is now used to host special events.
If we go left instead of going into the park, a few steps away is a small gated entrance to a terrace that you should not miss. The terrace offers a spectacular panorama of the river, the town below, the castle on the left and the surrounding area. Your camera will be busy here and, at times, you will have numerous people jockeying for position to get that perfect shot. Please note that the terrace is not always open in the evening.
Český Krumlov Castle
The Český Krumlov Castle dates back to 1240 when it was built by the Witigonen (Vitkovci) dynasty. In 1302, the Rosenberg dynasty became owners of the castle, and you will see their family’s five petalled rose logo at various locations throughout the city. In 1622, the castle was transferred to the Austrian Eggenberg family who expanded the castle, including adding the unique baroque theatre that bears their name. Today, the local brewery in Český Krumlov is named after the Eggenbergs. The Schwarzenberg family took over the castle from 1719 until 1947 when it was transferred to the Czechoslovak state. The castle complex, with five courtyards, is listed as a Czech National Monument and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
What would an old castle be without a good ghost story? In medieval times, the appearance of a White Lady during the day or night was an omen that someone in the family would soon die. At the Český Krumlov Castle, legend has it that the castle is haunted by their own White Lady, Perchta of Rosenberg. Her husband treated her poorly and on his death bed he asked her for forgiveness. She refused and her husband cursed her. Since her death, her ghost has haunted her former husband’s estates including the castle.
When we leave the photo terrace, we cross the fifth castle courtyard surrounded by the baroque castle theatre and the renaissance house to the white and grey Cloak Bridge. The bridge, which offers more great views of the old town and river, has three stories above the arched walkway that connect the castle to the theatre.
Entering the area called the Upper Castle, we pass through two small courtyards, named the fourth and third castle courtyards. The courtyards’ facades were painted in the 16th and 17th centuries. The frescoes painted on flat walls use the “trompe–l’oeil” technique to create the optical illusion that the walls are three-dimensional brick with intricate stone decorations and inlayed statues. The “Upper Castle’s” renaissance interiors are palatial with an important collection of paintings, tapestries and furniture. The castle’s underground foundations, called the Wenceslas Cellars, are a labyrinth of pillars and arches. Exiting the third courtyard, we go down a steep and windy passage way, which may have been used for vehicles.
Arriving at the second castle courtyard, we find the Burgrave’s house from 1578. The Burgrave, or “Count”, was the governor of the town, with judicial and military powers bestowed on him by the Holy Roman Emperor. From 1742-1948, the lower floor of the Burgrave’s house was used to house the Schwarzenberg grenadier guard.
The courtyard has a stone fountain from 1641 in the middle and the colorful castle tower in the corner. The tower and the adjoining “Hradek” building are the two oldest parts of the castle. If you climb the tower, you will get amazing views of the castle and the town.
To access the first courtyard, we cross a small bridge that has a Bear Moat below. There have been bears in the moat since 1707, and most times we can see them walking around or eating their vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, we don’t always see them as they like the area under the bridge. This is the largest courtyard and was used as an agricultural area and animal enclosure. We leave the castle through the Red Gate and continue until we reach the Latrán street where we turn right. A few meters away on your left is the entrance to the Monastery.
Monastery of the Minorites
After the castle, the monastery is the second largest historic complex in Český Krumlov. The medieval monastery was founded for the brothers and sisters of the order of St. Francis of Assisi in 1350. St. Francis gave the name “Friar Minor” or “Minorites” to the Franciscans. The order of St. Clare, “Poor Claires” or the “Clarissas,” is the name of the female branch of the Franciscans. The monastery church located in the center of the complex separates the convents of the Minorites (here from 1357-1950) and Clarissas (here from 1361-1782).
Latrán Street and Lazebnicky Most
The renaissance area just outside the castle and across the river from the old town center was once the home of castle servants. Today the cobble stone Latrán Street’s colorful houses are full of shops, cafes, restaurants and artist galleries. Just off the Latrán, you will find artist workshops featuring paintings, iron works, statues and furniture. Some of these artist workshops are decorated with interesting murals.
Undoubtably, you will be hit by the sweet aroma of the chimney cake or Trdelník. The Trdelník is a rolled dough which is wrapped around a thick spit, baked over hot coals and topped with sugar, walnuts and sometimes cinnamon. You can find variations of this treat throughout the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Connecting the Latrán street to the old town is the wooden Lazebnicky bridge with a large crucifix in the middle. Form the bridge, you have a magnificent view of the castle above, the Vltava river meandering its way around the town, and the riverfront houses and restaurant patios of the old town.
Historic Old Town
Once you cross the bridge, if you go forward on the Radniční street for about a hundred meters you will arrive at the Town Square. Instead, we will turn right and take the curved Dlouhá Street with interesting cafes, restaurants and hotels. At the end of the Dlouhá street, we arrive at the Široká street. Turning right we will come to the old mill where we can see the waterwheel still turning and we get another great view of the castle. We continue in the other direction leisurely making our way down the wide and vibrant Široká street until we reach a junction where three streets meet. This is a very picturesque little square with colorful buildings decorated with frescoes.
Only a few meters away from this junction, we find ourselves in the Český Krumlov town square or Náměstí Svornosti. The square has served not only as a market in medieval times, but also as a place of execution. The large white building with renaissance arcades is the 16th century Český Krumlov Town Hall. The four coats-of-arms painted on the façade of the building are those of the Eggenbergs, the Schwarzenbergs, the town and of the Czech state of Bohemia. Like many towns in the Czech Republic, the square has a Marian Plague Column with a fountain at the center. The plague columns give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the end of the plague that killed many throughout Europe in the 17th century. The beautiful buildings adorned with stucco decorations and frescoes around the square once belonged to the town’s upper class and have been restored to their original splendor.
Church of St. Vitus
From the town square you will see the 19th century spire and tall roof of the Roman Catholic church of St. Vitus. A short climb up Horní Ulice street you will reach the church entrance. The gothic church has a white interior with an impressive vaulted ceiling supported by stone columns. The tall but clear gothic windows allow light to flood the nave and they push your eyes upwards to the magnificent ceiling. Dating back to the 13th century when the site became a place of worship, the church has undergone a few additions and changes over the years. The church is the burial place of notable Bohemian families including generations of the aforementioned Rosenbergs and Schwartzenbergs.
Not far from the church is a little garden called the Seminární Zahrada, or the Seminary Garden. The garden is part of the Regional Museum, which used to be a seminary for the Jesuits. Like the terrace by the castle, this garden is one of the best spots in town to get that spectacular panoramic photo. The castle and tower are prominent in the background, seemingly rising above a sea of the red tiled roofs below.
Rafting on the Vltava
As you leave the old town back to the parking area, you will cross the Lavka pod Zamkem wooden bridge which leads to the Deer Garden. The bridge offers a few more photo opportunities of the river, the castle and the Cloak Bridge. One of the most interesting things to see from the bridge is the wier on the Vltava River that has a spot on the right for rafters to slide down from the higher water level to the lower level. Rafting is very popular, and in summer months you will see raft after raft leisurely floating down the river. The Malecek Rafting company offers canoe and raft rentals with trips of various durations from a thirty-minute trip in the city center all the way to half-day and full-day trips further down the river. They also offer a fifty-minute historical cruise on a twelve-person wooden raft. In the middle ages and beyond raftsmen used the Vltava to transport goods and raw materials like wood and salt. Today, people can enjoy this experience in amazing surroundings.
Český Krumlov has many small museums worth visiting. My favourite is the Museum of Commerce (Muzeum Obchodu) located in the old town just as you cross the Lazebnicky bridge. The museum has recreated shop interiors, shop machinery and advertising from the early 1900s. Individual packaging of products, like we are used to today, was non-existent. They have a great display of metal dispensary containers where customers would get their coffee beans, sugar, flour or other goods. They also have old style metallic advertising signs for sale. Across from that museum, there is an antique shop with very unique items and next door is the Fairytale House & Puppet Museum.
Other museums you may want to visit in Český Krumlov include the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel, the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, the Moldavite Museum (Muzeum Vltavinu), the Regional Museum and the Torture Museum. There are many other little museums around town worth visiting. Nearby, hikers enjoy climbing the 1,084 meter high Mount Klet’ and guided tours of the Graphite Mine.
Český Krumlov is the second most popular tourist destination in the Czech Republic. I have been to this medieval town numerous times with my tour groups and I am always excited to include it in my itineraries.
Explore Europe With Us
Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing Tours have taken thousands to Europe on their custom group tours since 1994. Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom tour possibilities for your group of 26 or more. Individuals can join our “open” signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours including our popular Canada hockey fan tours to the World Juniors. At azorcan.net/media you can read our newsletters and listen to our podcasts.
Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours.
Click below to read Paul’s sobering story about Canada’s role in WWI.
City of Red Deer expedites patio process for desperate restaurants
From the City of Red Deer
City accommodates demand for patios
Summer patios are popping up throughout Red Deer as an extension to seating areas at local restaurants. Following the mandated closure of indoor dining by the Government of Alberta, outdoor patios are one way food and beverage businesses can continue to operate.
“We know local business owners are struggling to adapt to changing restrictions and wanted to find a way to expedite the application process so these businesses see minimal impact to their operations as a result of closure of indoor dining,” said Erin Stuart, Inspections and Licensing Manager. “The health and safety of Red Deerians is of utmost importance, and participating businesses must ensure that public health orders and provincial restrictions continue to be followed.”
Patios installed on private property require a development permit and may require a building permit. In an effort to offer immediate assistance to businesses, The City is modifying these processes to allow for installation of patios prior to permits being issued, following discussions with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.
A signed waiver is required by the business owner, allowing for the immediate installation of the patio. The business owner will be responsible for submitting a complete application, including a site plan outlining the location and measurements of the patio and the number of seats, within two weeks of the signed waiver being submitted. The permit will continue to be processed, ensuring safety and legislative requirements are met, and will be valid until September 30, 2021.
For patios within the downtown core, business owners are required to apply for a Seasonal Downtown Patio. Businesses within the downtown core require a boardwalk to be installed around the perimeter of the patio to provide a safe, accessible walkway for pedestrians (this excludes businesses located within Ross Street Patio). The City will build, install, remove and store these boardwalks at no cost to participating businesses.
Interested business owners can visit www.reddeer.ca/seasonalpatios for more information and to begin the application process.
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