It was a Yellow-bellied Marmot, Marmota flaviventris. This is a strange, although not unique sighting in Richmond.
Yellow-bellied Marmots are found in the southern half of British Columbia, east of the north-south divide of the Fraser Canyon. According to Nagorsen(2005): “...it inhabits the Fraser and Thompson Plateaus, and the southern mountains, including the Cascades, Monashees and Selkirks. The western limit of the range is on the eastern side of the Fraser River; the northern limit is the Williams Lake area, although there is a historical museum specimen taken in the 1950s at Prince George.” They inhabit the grassy lower slopes of mountains, in areas where there are prominent rock features (or man-made equivalents such as concrete highway barriers) for perching to survey the surroundings and bask in the sun.
So why is one here, 150 Km west of home, in Temple Row?
This happens from time to time. In our previous neighbourhood, also in Richmond, which was still under construction while we lived there, I saw a yellow-belly wandering among half-built houses. And about a decade ago, one decided to move into a pipe sticking out of the ground in my mother-in-law’s backyard in Surrey BC, again way the wrong way for a marmot to be. Most famously, a small colony became established in the 1980s near the north end of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge in North Vancouver. That group was eventually relocated to Manning Park, which is within their natural range.
The most likely explanation is that now and then a marmot will blunder into the back of a truck, or onto a railway car, and be transported with a load of lumber to wherever the lumber is to be used.